alright, this is a new story. yes, it is cliche! but sometimes, cliche can be o so tasty. yah? anyway, hope you guys enjoy this. i'm nearly done with the story, and should be able to have weekly updates. after this, i'm looking to update Perfect Uncle and Rasta Guy. i am seriously getting some writing done now that classes are el fin. yep.

beta'd by amindaya, who rocks chocolate-banana taffy. fu.

tuesday, 27 may, 2008. 7:04 pm.

Mom was home when I let myself into the apartment at eleven-o-six at night, and I quietly did the latch and toed off my shoes by the door, only to hear my name being called from the single bathroom. I winced and quickly fanned my shirt, hoping to rid it of the telltale smell of pot; there's no hope for itthat shit sticks around. Walking to the bathroom, I gave up fanning my shirt and instead cracked my spine, sickening crunches that tend to drive most people crazy.


Her voice was overloud in the small space as I approached the doorway; "Yeah, Mom, I'm right here."

She was applying makeup to the bottom ridge of her eyelid, face close to the mirror as she murmured, "Yeah, yeah. I thought we agreed you'd be home before dark."

"You agreed."

"Don't be an ass, I'm being serious."

"Yeah, Mom, sure."

I rolled my eyes and leaned against the jamb, watching her blink away a few tears from a slight hand-pressure mishap. Mom was pretty enough for someone aged from raising a kid by herself on minimum wage jobs; she was seventeen when she had me, and is only twice that now—thirty-four. Looking at the result of her efforts, Mom sniffed a few times… and then turned on me, grabbing a hold of my shirt and yanking me closer, inhaling the pot smell I hadn't been able to get rid of in time.

"Fucking weed! How many times do I gotta tell you, Saul, to quit with the fucking weed?!"

Her tone had gone from bland to harpy in the span of a heartbeat, but I remained unaffected as I shrugged and offered, "I dunno, Mom, don't seem to be sinkin' in yet."

A heavy hand smacked me about the head and face, and I ducked to ride out the angry blows, stifling my derisive laughter; laughing just pisses her off even more.

"Fucking little shit! I told ya this morning I was going out tonight with Andrew, I told you to be home before dark, and I keep fucking telling ya to stop smoking weed! Ungrateful bastard; fucking useless!"

I allowed her to vent a bit and then brushed her off as I stepped back, rearranging my shirt and soothing some of the aches from her blows.

"Gee, sorry I'm such a burden, yeah? Go fucking go out with Andrew; I know you won't be home, so don't bother telling me not to wait up. Fucking whore yourself out, and maybe he'll buy ya something nice, right?"

This time, her palm flew across my face in an outright slap, one that had to have hurt her just as much as it hurt me.

"Fucking grow up, Saul! Most of the shit I have to put up with is just so I can put food on the table and into your stoned gut! I don't need to put up with shit from you too!"

She shoved past me and stormed into her room, slamming shit around as I nursed the side of my face with a sulky frown. I made sure I was out of the way when she bustled back through; she didn't take the time to say anything to me as she left, the door slamming behind her and settling the atmosphere of our apartment.

"Good riddance, ya fucking bitch."

I gave another absent rub of my burning cheek as I wandered into the kitchen and poked my head into the fridge, disappointed to see that the bologna was gone and a shriveled pickle was the last in its jar. Guess if I wanted something to eat, I'd have to go elsewhere.

My best friend's house was usually my first choice, but his parents were less latchkey than mine, and would never let me in at this time of night. But earlier in the day, one of the guys in the building had stopped me for a quick chat, and he'd mentioned a party he was throwing tonight; course, he'd only stated that there'd be pussy and booze, but I figured that there were probably snacks to be had there as well.

Thus, I left the empty apartment and made my way down two levels to Greg's place.

Heavy hip hop music thumped through the door, and I vaguely wondered why the supe or the cops hadn't been called yet. Still, I knocked on the door and was admitted by a drunken broad who looked three sheets in the wind and fresh from a vomit run to the shitter. Her suggestive leer was lopsided, and I mutely pushed past her into the apartment, ignoring most of the drunken debauchery that was mistaken for a good time.

Greg was in the kitchen, and as I passed him for the fridge, his long arms caught hold and tugged me against his gangly frame, his laughter loud and obnoxious as he called my name in a sing-song slur. I hate drunk cuddlers.

Oh man, food, fooooood. It was calling me by force!

A strategic elbow released me from Grabby Greg, who fell to the floor with a burbling laugh and groan, and I stepped over him and opened the fridge, scanning its contents. Oh shit yeah, there was a half-empty canister of chocolate icing and a seemingly forgotten bottle of Absolut in the far back. I grabbed both and side-stepped other drunken people in various stages of undress and/or consciousness, letting myself back out.

Carrying off my goods, I went to a nearly-always deserted park not too far from the apartment building; the only people who come here are tired mothers with children during the day and sometimes homeless people at night.

As it was, it was empty save myself, and I collapsed beneath a tree far enough away from the street lights that a passing police car wouldn't be able to readily make me out in the darkness. I ate the icing with my fingers, gulping from the bottle often enough that I no longer tasted either the icing or liquor after a while, my tongue and throat growing numb, but was too drunk and high to care.

I lost track of the empties at some point, my mind swimming in a near-comatose fog for a few hours, until the chill of early morning forced me from my slump on the hard ground. I managed to stagger home, humming sloppy tunes beneath my breath and small giggles erupting every so often when I somehow grew an extra leg and foot to trip me; it would go away when I concentrated though, which was weird, right? I mean, phantom legs growing only to trip me, but I couldn't ever find them again.

Maybe they were magic. Yeah, magic! Fucking rainbow magic.

I fell against our door and let out another giggle that faded away into a seasick gulp, my head pressing against the wood so that the world might stop lurching about. Eventually, my stomach and head calmed, and I let myself inside and stumbled down the hall to Mom's bedroom; it was empty, and I clumsily toed off my shoes—nearly capsizing a couple of times in the process—and then fell into her bed and passed out.

The sun was just coming up when a body slid into the bed with me, tired hands maneuvering me over to make room, and I woke just enough to realize that it was Mom. I wasn't supposed to be in her bed, and made as to roll out so I could go sleep off the rest of my hangover on the couch, but she grabbed a hold of my shirt and tugged me back down, leeching onto me with arms and legs as she sighed with exhaustion. So I gave up and lay still, ignoring the sharp tang of sex on her as I fell back asleep.

Unfortunately, this was a scene I was used to.

It was two in the afternoon before Mom finally came down the hall and flopped onto the sofa, displacing my comatose slump as I half-watched a diet pill infomercial on the television. I pushed myself back upright with a low grunt, and her gummy eyes squinted against the afternoon sun to make out what was on the TV screen.

"Saul, ge'me 'n aspir'n, will ya, pre'y please?"

I grunted and waited a moment, and a heavy hand smacked me in the chest to get my attention, causing me to sigh.

Pushing up from the couch, I went into her bedroom and found the nearly-empty bottle of cheap aspirin on the floor next to her dresser, popped the lid and removed two for her and one for myself. I'd taken one upon waking up, but another one was needed to kill that edge that was lingering behind my eyeballs. I downed mine dry, but grabbed a glass of chlorinated tap water for Mom, carrying it all back to her and waiting for her to finish off the glass.

Afterwards, we returned to blindly watching the same infomercial. After perhaps an hour or so and two infomercials later, she woke up enough to scrub both hands down her face and push her bangs behind her ears, sitting up and leaning forward.

Oh great, a speech.

"Saul…last night…."

I didn't respond; if I say anything about pot, booze, or my smarting off, it'll be the complete opposite of what she meant, but it'd remind her of something she'd hopefully forgotten.

"…You turn eighteen in eight months."

Oh, that. "Always said I'd be off verra next day, you know that."

She nodded, eyes turned towards the window; the slump in her shoulders made her seem so much older than thirty-four, but I couldn't bring myself to say I cared. I can't love my mom while living with her; maybe in a few years, I could look at her and know that I truly love her, but that's only after I've gone elsewhere, no longer having to deal with her.

Maybe in a few years, I'll forget.

That's been my only hope through the years. I don't doubt that it's the exact same way for her.

"Andrew wants to marry me, Saul, and last night, I told him yes."

I sat in mute silence, staring at her and wondering if that was supposed to make me feel anything.

Finally, her eyes slid from the window to me, unreadable as she stated, "We're moving in with him this weekend."

Frowning, I turned my gaze to the television, though I didn't really see what was on anymore; "Why do we have to move?"

"Because there's no sense in moving them into our apartment; it's bad enough you sleep on the couch, without having two more people here."

I paused; "Them? Two more?"

"Andrew has a son; but of course, you'd know that if you ever paid any attention."

"Oh great, better'n better. How old is the little shit, then?"

This earned me a clap to the back of the head, but I shrugged it off until she answered my question; "Danny's seventeen, you little bastard. He even goes to the same school."

There was only one Daniel I knew, and Mom correctly ascertained that the storm clouds on my face were a result of hearing his name.

"I don't want to hear it, Saul! Whatever your shitwith him, you're going to be civil while sharing his room; Andrew would have shit kittens if he found out you sleep on the couch here, you won't be able to pull the same trick at his house."

Like fuck I was going to share a room with the limp dick bastard! But rather than fight with Mom and get smacked around again, I got up from the couch and walked to the door, opened the bolts, and proceeded to wheel out the beat-up ten speed mountain bike I'd salvaged from the apartment dumpster a few years back.

She didn't stop me, not that she could have, and I slammed the door behind me before taking the bike down to ground level.

A few residents who recognized me called out various greetings, and I nodded at each but didn't respond in like, too angry to be anything close to civil. Once the tires were against pavement, I mounted the bike and took off, standing as I rode the pedals, steering out onto the street.

It was a good fifteen or twenty minute ride from my apartment to Benji's house, where he lived with his parents and older brother, Peter. Benjamin has been my best friend since elementary, and Peter was my mentor for much of my childhood, as he's four years older. He's where I get all my dope. He made me promise—when he got Benji and I high for the first time near the end of the sixth grade because I pestered him enough about it—that we'd never get dope from anyone we couldn't trust a hundred percent, and that's supposed to always be him. I think at first he just thought it was funny to see two eleven-year-olds stoned (one of which, his own brother), but after a while, it became his way of being the cool older brother.

At seventeen, I can see him for what he is now: a twenty-one-year old adult who hangs out with other losers like himself, without a job or aspirations for anything more than what he is. He lives at home, for Christ's sake! But he's never been stingy with his weed, so I can't slag him too much.

Benji answered the door when I knocked, a sucker stick poking from the left corner of his thin mouth; his grin flashed silver braces at me, and he let me in.

"Saulie! Yo!"

I managed a tight smile that faded quickly, and he seemed to catch on that my mood wasn't the greatest. "Dude, your mom being a royal twat again?"

"Or something. Let's go to your room."

He paused, glancing at the television; obviously, he was in the middle of a show, but he chose to catch it again later, turning off the set and tossing the remote down onto the coffee table. I led the way, glancing at the large Metallica poster up on Peter's door as I passed it; he's got a different one up just about every couple of months or so.

Upon reaching Benji's room, I slumped onto his bed and kicked off my shoes, sprawling out as he shut the door behind him and brought the sucker from his mouth for a few licks. It was orange.

I looked at him a moment before asking, "Yah got another one o'those?"

"Pfft…yeah, I guess."

He made it sound like a huge favor, but went over to his dresser and riffled through the junk piled on top until he found what he was looking for, turning and tossing me a grape Blow Pop; not quite the same, but good enough.

It was only after he'd crunched through the hard candy shell to the tootsie roll in his did he ask me what was up my ass.

"…Mom's getting married."

That got his attention, rising him from the identical sprawl to mine on the bed; his elbow supported his weight as he looked at me.

"Married? That's tough."

I nodded, molars cracking down into my sucker so I could get to the gum faster. "Yeah, to Daniel's dad."

"…Daniel, like the guy who tussled you at the sports assembly end of year, that Daniel?"

I nodded, my expression grim as I stared up at the ceiling. "That one."

He lowered back down and was quiet a moment. "Wow…that guy's a fucking asshole. You should live here."

I snorted; "Right, your pops wouldn't let me stay here, he doesn't even like it when I'm over for dinner."

Benji sighed; "Yeah, I know. Dad's a dick too, sometimes. Figures you're a pothead; it's as if he forgets that Pete was suspended three times for having weed at school."

I laughed, tossing the empty sucker stick at him and was rewarded with an indignant squawk. We got into a wrestling match, until Benji slipped off the edge and fell to the ground; I'd cracked up at the sight of his huge eyes and scrambling, unable to breath through my laughter for a good ten minutes after he hit the carpet.

"Fucking bastard; fucking jerk!"

His snarl wasn't that scary, and only increased my laughter until he pounced and knocked the air from my lungs. Then I groaned, and it was his turn to crack up.

When we finally calmed down, he glanced at me with a calculating gaze before shaking his head, asking, "Man, you get drunk or something last night? You kinda look hung-over."

I grimaced; "Yeah, I hawked a bottle of vodka from this dude in the complex."

"Idiot." The tone was fond, and I gave a small grin; Benji can take me from any bad mood. It's why he's my best friend.

A/N: fin