Dramatis Personae: 4-13-04 ~Johnnathan Paul Gala: born May 2, 1988 ~Carlotta Nicole and Sandra Michelle Gala: born December 12, 1990 ~Johnny in '92 (parent's divorce) age 4; Carly and Sandra age 2 ~Johnny in '98 (with Mom) age 10; Carly and Sandra age 8 ~Johnny in '99 (private school) age 11, Carly and Sandra age 9 ~Johnny now ('04) age 16; Carly and Sandra age 14 ~Jonathan Carl Gala: born April 27, 1958 ~Nicole Marie Sanders Gala: born September 12, 1958 ~Michael Connor Sanders: born May 2, 1964 ~James "Jah Jah" Alexson: born November 1, 1964 ~Pamela AndLee Gala: 3 years old
"Be the better man."
Said my Dad's voice as Rick's fist smashed into my jaw. Here I was being beat the shit out of just to "be the better man". The things parents tell their kids, I swear, they just want to see us suffer. Rick and I'd started to draw quite a crowd now. Kids were jumping about, screaming "Go Rick! Punch his fucking lights out!", "Get up Johnny!" Finally a teacher (Mr. Spencer of the science office) grabbed Rick by his blue t-shirt and dragged him off me. I stood up on my wobbly legs and wiped the blood off of my nose. Mr. Spencer kept a hold of Rick and pushed him into the Principle's office. He came back for me and helped me into the office. I knew I was going to get expelled. I just knew it; my Dad was going to murder me. We waited for about 5 minutes then Mrs. Acker walked in. Her hair was put up in a loose bun; she seemed in a good mood. Not for long though.
"What happened here gentlemen?" she asked as she handed me a Kleenex. There was a big bloody wode of them all ready in the waist-basket.
"Rick jumped me." "Mr. Howlen, is this true?" "Yeah! Fucker deserved it!" "Language Howlen!" "Sorry, but he did." "I did.I.I told him that Nancy Marks wasn't going with him to Prom. I also told him that she wasn't going with me either. He obviously didn't believe me."
"You'll both be getting 5 days suspension for your senseless acts of brutality towards each other as well as a call to you parents."
We stumbled out of the office. Rick glared at me as he headed to his next class. I went to the nurse for some Advil and an ice-pack and then went to class. I suffered though my last 2 classes then went home. Luckily, when I got home no one else was there. My Great Dane Pamela ran up to me when I opened the front door and began to jump on me and lick me.
"Hey girl. How was your day?" She barked at me and wagged her tail. "Thanks Pam, come on girl. Come get a treat." I got her some beef treats then went to my room. I was determined not to cry. Not because I knew I was dead at 6pm when my Dad got home or from the pain in my nose but because I knew Dad would be disappointed with me when he heard what had happened today. I knew he wouldn't listen to a word I had said.
"Be the better man." Shit! I did! Know I was going to get into trouble. Parents. I started on my homework but couldn't concentrate. The pain in my nose spread through my whole face. I looked in my mirror on my desk; I'd have a black eye by tomorrow. I know what you're thinking. He keeps a mirror on his desk? What, does he wear masquara too? No, I don't wear masquara. I tried to sleep but that didn't work either. So I just sat in my room and watched the sky go from light blue to pink-orange. I could hear a car pulling up and I waited for the telltale slam of the door. No doubt Mrs. Acker called him at work, he hated that. His work was the only place where he had some time to himself. What with me, Pamela, and my 2 sisters Carly and Sandra.
"Johnnathan Paul Gala get down here!"
The calm was over, now was the time for the storm.I clomped down the stairs, Pamela at my heels.
"I got a call from your Principle today. She says you got in another fight. She also told me that you got 5 days suspension! What the hell did I tell you? Huh?! Answer me young man!"
"Rick Howlen came."
"Rick Howlen?! Wasn't he the kid you put in the hospital?"
"Johnnathan, I'm sick of this! You were doing well for almost a month. Now you've screwed yourself over again!"
I just stood there. I knew that if I said anything he'd slap me. I'd had enough of that today.
"Dinner will be ready in a half hour, now go to your room."
Back up in my room I stared up at the ceiling, Pamela was lying by my side.
"I just don't get it Pam. I did what he said; I was 'the better man'." I lowered my voice like my Dad's when I quoted him.
"I can't run anymore.I'm stuck here. Mom doesn't give a rat's ass about me."
The doorbell rang; I could hear Carly and Sandra's voices. Carly was telling Dad about the soccer game, how she'd won the game. I heard Sandra running up the stairs. She knocked on my door and peeked in.
"Can I come in?" "Sure." She had her school uniform on and a sweet smile. Carly ran up the stairs and into my room. She wore he soccer uniform which had clumps of grass and dirt on it. They both hugged me. For a minute I forgot that they were twins.
"Dad says that Mrs. Acker called." "Yeah." "Did Dad all ready drop the mighty ax?" "Yeah." I suppose I should explain some things to you. I was born May 2, 1988 (that's my Uncle Michael's birthday). My sister's were born December 12, 1990. My parent's got divorced 2 years after my sister's were born. My Mom was given custody of us for about 6 years, and then one day she just dumped us off with Dad. Back then Dad was nice. He'd play with us and encouraged us. But as the years went by he just got bitter. I once heard him talking to one of his buddies from the office "Why the hell did I get landed with these kids? I can't handle Johnny, the girls are fine but he."
boys' are always the root of the problem. The truth was that he didn't want the responsibility of taking care of us. Up until then he was all cookies-n-cream. Before we came, he was out almost every weekend with his buddies.
"So did he bring out the rack yet?" joked Carly ".Not yet." "Ah come on Johnny, what could happen?" "Reform school or the military." "Come off it Johnny, those are just stupid threats. He'd never really do
it. " "You sure about that?" She smiled and punched me playfully in the arm. "I gotta' go take a shower. But I'll see you at dinner." Sandra sat on my bed as Carly left the room. Pamela came up to her to be petted.
"So." "How was school?" "Fine." Sandra and I had had a falling-out about 3 weeks ago. I'd gotten mad at her for taking my signed shirt of "Finch" and washed it. So to get back at her I took her ink well and spilled it all over her purple carpet. Childish I know. But she had it coming! We'd managed to get most of the ink out of her carpet; I had to go over the signatures of the band with a permanent marker 3 times. After we got out hands slap so to speak we forgave each other and tried to get along again.
"Your nose looks like it hurts." "It does." She touched my nose and lightly squeezed it. "OW! What the hell'd you do that for?" "I dunno'." "Gees thanks Sandra! Oh great, it's bleeding again!" "I'm sorry." "Yeah, well. Ah! God, that hurts!" I grabbed some Kleenex and shoved it up my nose. "Nice look Johnny." Laughed Carly as she walked in my room. Her hair was up in a towel and tiny rivulets of water trailed down her neck.
"Thanks, I had some help." "Johnnathan, Carly, Sandra. Dinner time." "Wow, he really is mad!" chuckled Carly. Our Dad only used our full name when he was mad. It was usually the full first name, like mine and Carly's or our "full" name. This is our names: Jonnathan Paul Gala, Carlotta Nicole Gala, and Sandra Michelle Gala. I suppose I should explain our name sakes? Johnnathan (with 1 "n") is my Dad's name. Paul is my Grandpa's name (my Dad's Dad). Carlotta is the female version of my Dad's middle name (Carl). Nicole is my Mom's name. Sandra is my Mom's best friend's name (they go back to grade school). Michelle comes from my Mom's brother Michael. I named my dog after Anderson. Back when we got her (I was 13) I'd had this major crush on the well endowed blonde. Her face had graced my walls for about 2 years. A buddy of mine made me a copy of the
"Tommy Lee + Pamela Anderson" tape. Unfortunately for me, my Dad found it. The pictures were torn down and thrown away, along with the tape.
At dinner, Dad and Carly talked about soccer. Sandra studied her math. I ate in silence until. "So Johnnathan, what am I to do with you?" Why do parents do that? They make you think up the punishment. Figuring you'll be easy on yourself so they can bring out the big guns on you. God I hate that! I set my fork down and stared at him.
"I dunno' Dad. How about 30 lashes?" Ok, so I only said it under my breath. "What was that?" "Military?" "Johnnathan Paul Gala, I'd never do that and you know it." "Why not make him drive us to school the rest of the year?" suggested
Up until then she'd been so immersed in her math work. We all knew that I hated that school. It's a private-school where you have to wear uniforms. There were headmasters and nuns. It was like a time warp to Charles Dickens. You waited for Mr. Murdstoone or Mr. Wackford Squeers to come rushing through the door. There was a tiny bit of CP, maybe a smack on the hand with a ruler. Only very rarely did someone "assume the position". They only used that ploy every 4 years or so. Some smart ass would cuss out a nun or vandalize the school or something. I was the unlucky one when I was there.
I was the "one" who got it that 4th year. Only once, mind you. After that, I spilt. There was no way in hell I'd let some pervy old man make me a part of his sadistic dreams. Wanker! That was a bad day. I'd broken into the school at night and vandalized Mr. Dollen's room. He'd been giving me crap all year. He was always trying to find some way to ruin my life or flunk me. Always saying in his nasally voice; "Mr. Gala, you will amount to nothing. You're just never going to make it in the real world."
Great words from a teacher, eh? Now do you honestly think my Dad believed me when I told him that? So I spray-painted "Mr. Dollen is a baby raper" all over his room. I'd read some article in the newspaper about all those priests who raped little boys, so I figured Mr. Dollen was no different. I'd also brought along with me a dead squirrel, that went in his desk. That thing stank up his room for weeks. Needless to say, I got my due in the end (no pun intended). After my meeting with the board of education I was pissed. So after school I came back (at night) and (with a dead cat) went up into the ventilation system. The next day when the heat came on. Oh my God! That was a nasty smell! Those are my memories of that place.
"What a wonderful idea Sandra. I will call Headmaster Johnson and tell him to expect you tomorrow son."
"Why?" "You're going to apologize for the cat incident."
I couldn't believe it; that was like 5 years ago! Dinner was quiet after that, besides from Sandra's pencil on paper. I cut out early (after dinner we usually watched a movie or played a board game) and went up to my room. At around 9 pm Carly came up.
"Hey Johnny. You ok?"
"I dunno' Car...I hate that place."
"I know. But it's only for 3 more months..."
"Great...And to top it off, I have to apologize to the Nazi."
"Maybe when he sees you tomorrow he'll croak."
"Why'd that happen?"
"Well, you were a holy er...hellish terror back then."
"Mr. Dollen deserved it."
"So did you!"
"Haha, point taken." I laughed as I threw a pillow at her.
After a short pillow fight (in which Carly won), Sandra came in after her homework was done. Get ready for some mega emotions.
"Car, Sand, why does Dad hate me? I-I'm not asking for you to pity me or anything...He just..."
"He doesn't hate you Johnny. I think he's just doing what was done to him. Ya know?"
"Yeah! It's that whole whacky chain thingy."
"If he was treated this way as a kid then why would he do it to me?"
I could feel the tears starting to well up. I'd only cried once before in front of my sisters. I'd gotten into a car accident with my Uncle Michael (Sandra's middle name-sake). Some asshole ran a red light and fish-tailed us. My Uncle broke some ribs and his left leg. I broke my arm and got a piece of the car stuck in me (not too deep). Therapy was a bitch for me. I had to do these arm bendy thingy's to work out the muscles in my arms. The first few times I had to have Dad, Car and Sand help me. That was the only time I ever cried in front of my baby sisters. I accumulated some scars from that incident (on my stomach and chest). The ladies love it. Frawh...
"Dad's just up tight. Works been tough on him. And now with this..."
"I did exactly what he told me to do!"
"What was that?"
"Be the better man. I didn't swing at Rick once today. I just stood there like an idiot!"
The tears began to stream down my face.
"You can sleep in now." Joked Sandra.
"No I can't. I've got to drive you 2 lovely ladies to school."
"I'm sure Dad'll let you sleep in the first few days of your...break."
"Psh, yeah right. That's a rainy day in hell!"
"Just give him a few days Johnny. Don't worry, you'll be ok."
That night I didn't sleep very well. I had a nightmare involving my sisters. We were driving to school and Dad drives up on this uber motorcycle and shoots us in the head. I woke up screaming, in a cold sweat. Dad, Carly and Sandra came barging in. Pamela began to whimper and nudged my hand with her nose.
"Johnny, what's the matter? Are you all right?"
"Yeah..." I couldn't help but glare at Dad. He gave me that 'don't push me kiddo' look.
"Ni-nightmare. Just go back to sleep."
"All right then." Mumbled Dad as he trudged back to his room.
"Night Johnny." Said Carly as she kissed me goodnight (on the forehead, you perverts!)
"You wanna' talk about it Johnny?"
"All right. Night then."
I didn't sleep the rest of that night. Laugh if you must, I cried half the night then after that I popped on my computer to write to my Uncle Michael. Ever since the accident, my Uncle Michael and I became close. We went through therapy together. He was my backup for the cat incident (he told Dad to take it easy on "Johnny-boy"). Haha! This is not The Waltons. He's the big brother I never had. This is pretty much what that letter said:
Dear Michael, I'm in a mental state...What I mean is...Dad's going psycho on me. I got in a fight at school. NOT MY FAULT! And he's just so angry...I wanted some counsel if possible. You're the only one who doesn't bear any judgment on me. ~Johnny-boy
When six rolled around, I got up and took a shower. I took my sweet time which always bugged Sandra whom it took forever to get ready. I grabbed some coffee just as my sisters waltzed down the stairs (oh the sarcasm is lovely).
"I've got soccer practice today after school"
"All right." Dad came down, adjusting his tie.
"Mornin' you three. I don't have time for breakfast. Got a busy day today. I'll see you later tonight." Kiss, kiss , open door, close door.
"God, I feel so loved!"
"Ah come on Johnny. He's late..."
"Yeah...Speaking of late. We gotta' go girls."
We all piled in the car. It was Mom's car a long time ago. Lot's of memories, lots...I'll get back to those later. The minute I stepped foot into those halls I remembered why I was glad I no longer attended that school. The few teachers that were still there from my day, glared at me when they saw me. As I watched my sisters go their separate ways, I trudged to the Headmasters' office. The last time I was in there was the day I got the aforementioned...It all looked the same. Mr. Johnson was never one for change. Mr. Johnson came walking into the room whistling a jovial tune.
"Mr. Gala. I see you've made it."
"Yeah. Look I don't want to take up any of you time. I'm sorry about the cat thing..."
"Yes, well I'm glad that you're sisters are not like that. Now get out of my sight!"
How many times is someone going to say that to me? I mosey my was out to the car. I went home and got Pamela then went to the beach. My Uncle Michael taught me how to swim. He was my Dad when I lived with Mom. The only males I knew as a young child were my Uncle Michael and his boyfriend Jah Jah. The whole homosexual thing has never bothered me. I was raised to not judge people because of who they shag.
Pam and I played Frisbee and swam a bit. I picked up Sandra and brought her home then went back to the beach. I stayed there until the sky began to turn orange. I had a feeling Dad might be pissed being that I wasn't at home sulking in my room or anything, but at that moment I didn't really care. I drove home in a sort of a daze. When I got there I silently came in the house and went into the kitchen. Dad, Carly and Sandra were in the living room watching a movie.
"Glad you could make it." Yelled Dad from the living room.
"Yeah. Sorry I'm late Dad. I was out at the beach."
"There's some dinner in the fridge for you."
I ate dinner by myself. I listened to my family laugh at the T.V. I thought of all my mistakes. I thought about how angry I'd been with my Mother for dumping me with an insensitive Father. I'd tried to kill myself twice, once with a razorblade and then OD'ing. Back in the day, when I first came to live with Dad I lied a lot to him, cut classes and got into fights. Once, I broke the T.V. with a hammer (Dad had punished my for something Carly did so I threw the hammer at the screen. Massive ass whuppin' after that incident).
I'd gone through this retribution thing, where I'd cut myself as a way of punishment for all the bad shit I'd done. I took to smoking when I was around the age of 12. Took my first drink of liquor at the age of 13. I smoked pot every once and a while. I'd never really gotten into the heavier drugs. Tried shrooms and thought my head would explode. Shot up, that was a good feeling but I was too afraid of needles to try it again and didn't want to risk it. I kept a flask of Jack Daniels under my bed (when I first started living with Dad, and went to that shitty school). Carly found it and snitched on me.
I'm telling you all of this now because these are some of my not so fine moments in life. Hearing them laughing in the next room, me not being part of it. That really pissed me off. I figured all that was going to happen was that I finish High School, maybe go to college then get stuck in some shit ass job anyway. Ain't I just so fucking optimistic?! In a fit of rage, I threw my plate against the wall. The laughter in the other room stopped. Sandra popped her head in and said;
"Johnny, you o..."
I pushed my palms into my eyes, pushing hard in hopes that the tears would stay back. They fell anyway.
"Johnny, w-what's the matter?"
"I...I just...I can't..."
Dad and Carly rushed in, shortly followed by Pamela.
"I fucking can't deal with anything anymore. I'm a mess..."
Carly and Sandra hugged me. Dad looked both pissed and concerned. The tears made tiny trails on my face, dripped off my nose. My Dad's hand clasped my shoulder; he gave it a reassuring squeeze.
"Is this because of yesterday?"
"Partly...I just have all these thoughts and memories..."
"Did you want to talk about it Johnny?"
"Yes...Just not now..."
"All right. I won't push you kiddo'. But I will be keeping my eyes on you."
"Uh-huh. We're here for you." Smiled Carly as she patted my hand.
"...Thanks. I-I gotta'...ughhh..."
I shot up and ran to the bathroom and threw up. Once I was done gagging, I splashed my face at the sink. I knew they'd think I'd tried to OD again or something. They came running to the bathroom to check on me.
"I-I'm ok. Just...go finish your movie." Dad shook his head and helped me to my room.
"Sleep kiddo'. I'll be back up to check on you." Sandra put a wet wash cloth on my forehead.
"I'm such an ass."
"Oh shut up Johnny. You're not an ass." Laughed Sandra.
"I'll see if Jah Jah can pick us up tomorrow."
"Oh God! Sand, Car, I'm so sorry!"
"S'all right Johnny."
"God I'm such a f..."
"Johnnathan! Just...You're stressed out doll. Just relax ok? Or I'll go kung fu on you!" I laughed, it hurt.
"Thanks you two."
Later, Dad brought up some tea and Benadrill.
"You feeling ok Johnny?"
"A little. Dad?"
"Johnny, don't say that."
"It's true Dad. All my life I've only..."
"Johnny. We all make mistakes."
"Yeah. Sorry. I'm just a wreck."
"You've had a few tough days."
He patted me on my head; it'd been years since he last did that.
"I'm tired." I sighed.
I slept once I took the Benadrill. My dreams were blank. And when I finally woke up (at around noon) my Dad was downstairs. It was 1:30.
"Hey kiddo', I made you some lunch.
I sat down at the table as my Dad served me some soup with toast. The food tasted good. I ate in silence while my Dad read the newspaper. Every Wednesday Dad went into work late.
"Am I picking the girls up today?"
"No. James is picking them up."
Jah Jah (his real name is James) is our Uncle by his relationship with Uncle Michael. They meet in college, freshman year. They both live about 5 minutes from my sisters' school, so sometimes they picked them up. \ The front door opened and in walked Jah Jah. We was wearing a dark blue shirt with black pants. His leather pants covered his boots. His hip length blonde hair was pulled back in a ponytail.
"Hiyah Johnny-boy, how're you doing?"
"Hi Jah Jah, I'm all right. Thanks for picking up the girls for me."
"No prob kid. Anything for the family. Michael says 'hi' and 'keep out of trouble' or he'll whack you."
A running joke of mine and my Uncle's. After the cat incident, my Uncle used to chase me around the house with a wooden spoon and wearing a bed sheet on his head yelling at the top of his lungs 'I'm a pervy old Headmaster! Assume the position!'. It was comical. We all knew what Michael and Jah Jah did in their spare time (I'd found a pair of handcuffs and a rider's crop). That was ok to; we always said it was healthy for them.
"Tell him I said 'hi' back." Jah Jah talked with my Dad for a few minutes then left.
"Got homework to do!" chirped Sandra as she ran up to her room.
Carly came home about an hour later. Covered in dirt and grass as always and instantly ran up stairs to take a shower. Dad left for work so it was just me and Pam. I sat in my room and looked through our photo albums. There were our baby pictures as well as my parent's wedding pictures. We each had our own baby book. Carly's and Sandra' were cute. They were always decked out in pinks and yellows. Looking happy. Mine were of me crying or half naked. There was even one of me over my Mother's knees screaming bloody murder. That was one of the most embarrassing days of my life.
I was about nine. We had a bunch of relatives over (being that it was my sisters' birthday). I was being a little snot because my Mom wouldn't let me go outside and play with my friends.
"No son, its Sandra's birthday and you're going to stay with her until it's over!"
Well, I got mad and stomped off. I slammed my bedroom door behind me. It was so unfair! And to top it off, she'd taken away my T.V. privileges. I looked out my window and decided to split. I crawled out my window and headed down to the lake. I took my socks and shoes off and rolled up my pants. I walked around in the water, picking up lose change and the sort. One of my buddies named Tony came up so we went and played football. I had a feeling Mom knew I wasn't in my room, but I didn't really care. I got back at about 6:30 and figured the guests were all gone. I was sadly mistaken.
My Mother was waiting for me in the living room, the dreaded spatula in her hand. The whole family was sitting on the couch or in chairs. Michael and Jah Jah looked at me disapprovingly. Mom grabbed me and flung me over he knees. She whacked my in front of the whole family! With no pants or nothing on! Well Jah Jah, being the comedian he always was. Took a picture of me flailing and screaming. Under the picture it said;
"He's not the birthday boy, but took the spanking for her!" Great. Yuck it up, you know you want to! Mom never laid a hand on me after that. My Dad on the other hand was always whacking me. The belt was a necessity in life, or so Dad said. I hated it sometimes, but I could never hate my parents. Those whuppin's taught me a lot over the years. Tony, Tony, Tony. We grew up together. We went to school with one another since kinder-care. We were split up during our time at Hell's ville/assume the position. He'd run into the board too many times so he dropped out and went to another school. I hadn't heard from him in a couple months. He told me he was going to go to New Orleans to become a famous author. His brother Brian and Brian's wife Anita live out there, so he wouldn't be too alone. After I looked through the albums I took a long shower then checked my email. There was only one, from my Uncle Michael. This is what it said:
Dear Johnny-boy, I have just received a call from Anita and Brian. She tells me that Tony was found in his New Orleans apartment...dead...I was told that it was caused by his over-use of heroin. We all know Tony, he's the risk-taker of the bunch. I'm going to follow up with the police as well as with Anita and Brian. Please don't be upset, we aren't certain. Anita tends to make things up, and believe me when I say she'd have no problem making such a thing up as this being that she couldn't stand Tony. I'll come by later tonight with JahJah to see how you are doing. *hugs and kisses* ~Uncle Michael
I knew that Tony had gotten into some heavy drugs during his last weeks at Hell school. I had told him to take it easy for a bit. His reply was "Naw man, I'll be cool. Just watch me man. I'm going to soar above the world as the new author of the century!" He had written around 20 short stories and 3 novels. He'd gotten 3 short stories published and only one of his novels published.
They were mostly autobiographical things, or fantasy mixed with bits of reality (as most books are). My favorite was his short story/poems published. It was called "Tears". I'd bought all of his work the minute it came out and of course I forced him to sign them. I scrambled to my bookshelf and unearthed the book. I flipped to the page which had highlighter all over it. My razorblade was neatly tucked in between the pages. This is what it read:
"Tears" By: Anthony Garcia I shed a thousand tears each night. Hoping that everything will be ok. I gaze into my blood stained mirror. And see that wounded, fragile child. All I want is someone to hold me. Hold me, body and soul together as one. What is the true meaning love? Kindness? Passion? Why do we as the human race pursue these foolish ideas? Why do we. Why do we. It's fading away. The depression is killing me.
Tears welled up in my eyes. I shut the book quickly and buried my head in my pillow, sobbing loudly. Pam licked my arm to comfort me then trudged out the door when she saw it did no good. I cried so hard that I could barely breathe. Why did all of this shit have to happen in a succession?! I sobbed and sobbed.
Then I heard the front doorbell ring. Sandra answered it. I could hear mumbled talking then her sobbing. Carly rushed to the door, silence, then more sobbing. Dad was in his study. I crept out of my room and peered over the balcony. It was Uncle Michael and JahJah. They both had tear-streaked faces. Carly and Sandra were clutching each other as they knelt on the floor sobbing. JahJah went to Dad's study to tell him the bad news.
Meanwhile, Uncle Michael looked up at me as tears rolled down his face. He slowly ascended the stairs. I ran into my room, slamming the door in his face. Now I love my Uncle Michael with all of my heart, and felt bad for slamming the door in is face, but I couldn't deal with all of this.
Uncle Michael knocked on the door and opened it quietly. I was curled up on my bed sobbing into my pillow. He sat next to me and held me. I couldn't push away, not after slamming the door in his face. He rubbed my back and whispered sweet little nothings in my ear (not that kind!) I began to nod off but was awakened by Uncle Michael getting up off my bed. I looked sleepily at him. He smiled and helped me up; we headed downstairs to talk with the others.
Carly lay in JahJah's lap, while Sandra curled up next to Dad. Uncle Michael and I brought in some chairs from the dining room and sat down.
"I called Anita and Brian; they said they got the autopsy report back. There were traces of heroin in his blood stream as well some large wounds on his ankles and wrists. They...They found him in his room in New Orleans. His stereo was skipping, the cd was 'The Cure' and the song was "Boys Don't Cry"..."
We all knew that was his favorite song. It was so cliché, it was so...him...He was raised by one of those brute-force 'You cry and I'll make you cry more you little shit!' Dads. His Mother left him when he was young. Once he dropped out of school and left to New Orleans we found out that Anita got him a job at her book store. So Tony could provide for himself, and if need be, he would have a place to stay.
"The funeral is in two days...It'll be in the Lafayette cemetery. They ask that you bring something Tony might've given to you or something of sentimental value. Girls, I'll call the school tomorrow. Michael and JahJah I want you two to stay here tonight. I've got a few phone calls to make."
Dad sounded so tired. He hadn't had much sleep. I watched as he slowly looked at the hanging portrait of our Mother on the wall. We never really knew why he kept it there, being that they split. She'd be at the funeral too. My Mom had been like Tony's Mom during our time at the primary and part of the private school. Tony once lived with us for half a year during that time period. His parents didn't give a shit about him. They'd never be at his funeral. Chances were that they were dead as well. Died in some freak accident or something (one could only hope).
No one slept at all that night. Uncle Michael and JahJah slept in the spare room. Carly and Sandra slept in my room on their little pull-out mattresses. We talked until the sunlight crept in my window. My alarm went off at 6:30, we got up being that that was the time we were supposed to rise and great the horrific day. We went down and ate breakfast. Around 9:30 while I was in the shower, I heard the doorbell ring.
"Come in." droned Carly.
I heard a sickeningly familiar voice. It was Mom. I knew she'd be scrutinizing all of Dad's things. She hated that we had such a nice house and that she was stuck in a middle class apartment building. I dried off as quick as I could, got dressed and ran downstairs. She was standing in the dining room. When I got there she spun around.
"Let me take a look at my little man!"
That made me cringe. I hated her now, I don't know why. I wanted to run out of the room but knew that my Dad and sisters would be disappointed in me. So I stumbled up to her and took her hand. She had been expecting a hug. A frown covered her face and she crossed her arms.
"What's wrong with you Johnnathan?"
I just glared at her. I couldn't help it. I felt betrayed by her, when she ditched us. I ran out of the room and into JahJah.
"Whoa there Johnny-boy. What's the rush?" "I can' stand to be in the same room as her!" "Hey now Johnny. That's your Mom in there, there's no need to talk about her like that. How would you like it if someone treated you like that when you hadn't seen them in a long time?" "Exactly. It's been a long time. She doesn't care!" "Johnny." "What seems to be the problem in here?" asked Uncle Michael.
He looked sternly at me and went into the dining room.
"Hello Nicole, it's been so long! What's wrong with Johnny?" "I don't know. I said 'hi' to him and he just ran out." "He just isn't used to seeing you, that's all." " .He's just not used to me. He's mad at me." "I'll take to him later. Come in the family room."
I could hear them talking as they went into the family room with me Dad and sisters. JahJah stood behind me on the balcony of the stairs.
"I don't blame you Johnny. Getting mad for her leaving you. My parents did the same with me, after they found out I was." "That's so fucking sick! How could a parent do that to their kid? So they don't see things the same way! WHY THE HELL DO PARENTS HAVE TO FUCKING BE LIKE THAT?!" I screamed.
The talking in the family room stopped abruptly.
"Johnnathan Paul Gala come down here." Bellowed my Dad.
I didn't care if I was in trouble. It was true! Parents and society kick out or exclude those people that don't see things the same way. Yet I thought of how I could never change them or their thoughts. I instantly thought of something the great and late actor River Phoenix once said: "I can't on my own change the regime in South Africa or teach the Palestinians to learn to live with the Israelis, but I can start with me." That made me think. 'Fuck everyone else. I'm not going to let them ruin my fun. I need to concentrate on myself and myself alone. After the funeral, I'm gone.'
The day of the funeral come around. As I suspected, Tony's parents weren't there. Anita and Brian where there, as well as a bunch of Tony's friends from school. They sat next to me and my family. I didn't cry, which didn't make me upset. I think I was too overcome with hate for my Mom and people in general. After the funeral there was a commemorative dinner afterwards. Nobody really ate though.
On the coffin where the pictures of Tony where there was one of Tony and I. It was a picture of us from the private school. We were in our uniforms (Tony's was actually in shreds being that we'd just clambered over the huge chain-link fence. His hair was a neon blue; hanging down past his ear on one side (the other side was shaved). He had this maniacal grin on his face. I was grabbing onto his arm and "screaming in his ear" (or so it looked like). That was an awesome day. We'd decided to leave school that day and run around the lake and skinny-dip. We did skinny dip just in case you are wondering. That was fun. After the refreshing dip, we took a tab of acid. Such great memories, only to have them torn away from me in my prime.
We stayed the night at a hotel. It was a humid night. The wallpaper was rolling off the wall in some places. The T.V. had only 4 channels and the food there was too spicy. I wanted to crawl home and sleep my last night in my own warm bed. But no, I was stuck in some cockroach infested Cajun's hotel (not that Cajuns are mean or anything, I've got relatives living in Louisiana.) Needless to say, I didn't sleep very well.
The next day we got up early and packed up or things. We dropped by Anita and Brian's to say our farewells then went home. We got home in about 3 hours. Pamela was freaking out because of the long ride home so I took her for a long walk along the beach. Uncle Michael and JahJah went with me. They smoked as we walked along, even offering me a couple puffs. The smoke felt so good going down into my lungs, as if it were the very blood in my body. We got home and had a late dinner of chicken and potato salad. Uncle Michael and JahJah slept in the guestroom again, Carly in Sandra in mine again. The girl's had school the next day so I knew they wouldn't be home in the morning.
Morning rolled around. I knew what I had to do. I got up, took a shower and left a note for Uncle Michael and JahJah. Here is what it said:
Uncle Michael, JahJah; I can't deal with this shit anymore. I'm going out to the backroads .I'm not sure if I'll be back at all or not. Please don't come looking for me. ~Johnny-boy
I knew they'd look. I didn't care though; I walked as fast as I could to the vacant building known as the 'backroads'. Tony and I used to go there when we were really, really upset. I mean suicidal upset, like you got the gun to your fucking temple upset. I collapsed on the top most floor and sobbed. The homeless people that lived there for the most part knew to leave me alone. One girl came up to me and gave me her handkerchief, it was pink with white lace and an "r" embroidered on it. It was probably her only possession. I cried and cried. The sun began to set, an orange-red light leaked through the foggy windows.
"Here you go."
It was the same girl who'd given me the handkerchief, she handed me a bowl of stew and sat down next to me. She was joined by an old man in rags. He looked like a very old, crippled Jesus (or at least he did in my mind). I was a bit surprised when no angels came flying down to him to lift him up to his throne. He smiled at me and gave me his hand.
"The names Judas."
Kinda' ironic huh?
"My name's Rena. What's yours?"
"Johnny? You're Ton."
With a stern look from Judas, Rena stopped talking. He put his hand on my shoulder and gave it a reassuring squeeze.
"I'm sorry Johnny. He was a good friend of mine too."
I could believe it. Tony spent a lot of his time here, being that he wasn't really wanted at home. Tears welled up in Judas' eyes as he set down the empty plate. I realized that I was conversing with a couple of homeless people who had hardly anything to call their own. Then I looked at myself, all the things I had. Most of which I didn't need. Rena gave me a knowing look, as if she had been thinking the same thing many years ago. 'I want to die. Put a gun to the back of my throat, or slit my wrists or something'.
"It's not worth it Johnny. You've got so much to look forward to in life. That's what Judas taught me."
Rena took our empty plates and set them on the wobbly end-table near the moldy couch. These people had maybe 7 blankets total for 15 people, no food or running water, not very many clothes (and I'm sure they shared most of them with each other). There were discarded needles lying about, cigarette butts lying everywhere. A large array of candles sat in one corner of the room, on the other was a little altar with a large ornate cross bearing the body of Christ. A Bible sat neatly on the floor next to a broken rosary. I assumed they were Judas'. Outdated tapes were piled by a dusty tape player. I wanted to cry for these people. To me this was pure hell, but to them I'm sure it was heaven. They were lucky to even be alive.
"It's time to sleep. Johnny, you get the couch." "But." "No buts, guests always get the couch. That's the hospitable thing to do." Said Judas as he handed me a pillow and blanket.
'That's the hospitable thing to do.' How could they be so kind to a world that shit them out practically when they were born? Jesus, they were so caring.
I slept the best sleep of my life on that old dusty couch. When I woke up there was a plate of some eggs. I realized that the number of homeless people had diminished. There were now only about 12 people. I looked around puzzled.
"People come here to stay for a bit to eat then high-tail it out of here because of the law or because they go back home." Said Rena.
"You're welcome to stay as long as you like Johnny."
That afternoon, Judas, Rena, I and 2 other people named Shark and Bitty played cards together. We were interrupted by my Uncle Michael's heavy footsteps on the top stair, JahJah not far behind. Judas smiled at them and stood up from the creaky floor. He extended his hand and shook Michael's strongly then he shook JahJah's.
"Time to go home Johnny." Growled Uncle Michael as he approached me.
I'd never seen him so mad in my life. Sure he was nice enough to shake Judas' hand and to nod at Rena, Shark, and Bitty but man was he mad! He took a hold of my arm when I shook my head and tried to drag me out of the room.
"I won't go with you Michael!"
He slapped me. That was the only time I had ever not called him 'Uncle' Michael, which was a major diss in my family. Then again, he'd never slapped me either. I took my arm out of his hand and backed up by Rena.
"I'm not ready to come home yet." I said as I rubbed at my sore cheek.
JahJah looked totally stunned at what had just happened and touched Uncle Michael's shoulder.
"Come on babe, if he's not ready to come home yet then he's not ready." "No James, his Dad wants him home now!" "NO!" I yelled.
I looked from Judas to Uncle Michael. Tears welled up in my eyes and I sank to my knees on the floor. I cried into my hands, only letting Judas and Rena comfort me. Shark and Bitty sidled out the door to leave us to our personal things.
"I.I swear that I'll come home when I'm ready. I swear Uncle Michael!" "And just what the fuck am I supposed to tell your Dad huh? He'll have both our asses you know?!" "I'll.I'll take all the wrap I promise. ."
Michael took a deep sigh and looked at JahJah who had begun to tear up.
"Fine. But if I hear that you OD'd or slit your wrists or something stupid like that then I'll bring you back to life and kick your ass got it?!"
I could tell he was serious. The things Uncle Michael can do with a bit of sage and Michael ruffled my hair; JahJah gave me a big hug and a kiss.
"Take good care of him for me or I'll burn this shit-heap down." Smiled Uncle Michael as he walked out the door.
I just needed a few days of rest and reflection. I stayed for a week, becoming used to the daily life of being on of the hommies (ha-ha, get it?) On the day I was to go home, everyone there gave me a going away party with streamers and balloons. We had little muffins and a cheap bottle of wine that Judas had gotten from his daughter Clarissa.
"I'll come back I swear. You guy are more family to me then well, my real family."
We had a HUGE group hug and then I was sent off. Rena let me keep her handkerchief, Judas gave me his Bible, Shark gave me one of her notebooks that had both her and Tony's poetry in it (they'd been 'dating' while Tony lived with them) and Bitty gave me his lucky shoelaces. I wept as I was sent off. Uncle Michael and JahJah waited in the car. I handed Rena my phone number and address.
"You should come visit me, all of you! Please, promise me you'll come?" "We promise!" smiled Rena.
Our drive home was quite, except for Pamela's whining. We got home and of course Dad, Carly and Sandra were waiting. Surprisingly, Dad wasn't mad. He gave me a big hug and kiss as did Carly and Sandra. We cried then went inside to get dinner on. That night was beautiful. After dinner I got a call from Rena. Dad agreed to have them over next Friday (my birthday). The night air was so cool, peaceful.
Tomorrow will be a new day.