One

May 26, 2009
Musk. Everywhere, musk. It had always been musky on Friday nights. Thick rivers of cigar smoke flowed from the back bar room substantially packed with Phillies’ spectators. Occasional whistles and groans follow the smoke stream. Any other night this place, Chickie’s & Pete’s, the restaurant where she had grown up, would have felt like home. She would have been in the back watching the mammoth projection screen with the Phillies’ broadcast or dancing with the drunken college students at the always lively middle bar.
But that night, that night was different. It all felt different, it all felt foreign. It may have been the people, but she doubted it. It may have been the fact that she was having the absolute hardest time swallowing just about anything. But it was probably the fight. It lingered over her like flies over a city dumpster. She could still hear the frustration in her voice and the uncertainty in her pauses. Neither of them was one hundred percent sure why they were fighting, or how the fight came about, but the fact of the matter was that it had, and now, they had to deal with it. But dealing with this fight was different. Different in the light that it was now summer, before, if they were to bicker and clash about something they would still be forced to see one another at school. And seeing as they had lunch simultaneously and suitably sat at the same table, they saw each other a bare minimum of a half an hour every weekday. Thus, they were able to realize just how stupid the fights were and put them in an easier place to mend their astounding friendship.
But the feeling she felt now was a familiar feeling, in a sick and distorted way, it was all too familiar. The empty pit at the bottom of her stomach that made her feel as if she was going to throw up and the way that it hurt to keep her eyes open. Because when they were open, as if with a mind of their own, all they wanted to do was cry.
In the midst of the pain, both physical and mental, she sat there, like an obedient child, waiting. They had arrived around 10 as always. Never too early that they hit the dinner crowd, but never too late that they hit the bar hoppers. 10 o’clock like always.
And still, she felt strangely disconnected from her environment. Time seemed to drag, at the same time there were half a dozen empty pitchers of beer extending about the length and width of the table. Who would have thought that two men could throw back that much beer so hastily? In reality, it hadn’t been so quick. Taking her phone out in desperate hope that she had received a text of apology or amendment, the only thing she found was that the time was 11:42. They had been there a while, and she was more than ready to leave. All she wanted was to just sleep this day off, in hopes that tomorrow would be different, in hopes that she could find the words to express how much she cares for her comrade and how much she truly means just how horrible she felt for ever fighting with her. She wanted to desperately crawl into her bed and sleep this off. It had become a ritual. Get in a fight, get angry, get sad, sleep it off, get up, dwell and sometime in the following days, apologize. That’s how it had always been. This time felt different though. There are no words to even describe the disappointment in her voice. She felt heartbroken, as if it was all coming to an end.
“Dad… daaa-ad,” her voice splintered. On top of all the drama, she didn’t feel good. Whatever it was, strep or mono, it was getting worse. “Dad! Can we please git goin’? I jus wanna goda sleep.” She had asked at least four or five times before he motioned for the check. He was drunk. There was no doubt about that. She and her brother walked in front of him. She turned to her stepfather to call for the keys. Before the words could escape her dry mouth she saw him sway from side to side and stumble over his own two feet. He finally made it to the car and after a few minutes, he fumbled the keys into the ignition.
He only lived a minute or two from the restaurant, depending on if you were lucky enough to not get stuck at each traffic light. As they turned onto 20th Street, she was ready as ever to escape to her room and sleep for forever. They got closer and closer and suddenly, out of the blue, her stepfather’s phone began to ring. She turned to him and watched while he nodded into the receiver, as if the person on the other end could see him. Without hanging up he jerked the car and made a quick u-turn in the middle of the street. Being that it was almost midnight there weren’t cars to worry about.
His devilish smirk was enough to make her, a bipolar teen that she was, flip out. “Dad! Wud tha h*ll! Er you serious?! TURN! A-ROUND! I feel like COMPLETE sh**!” No matter how loud she yelled or how much she cursed at him, it was as if she was talking at a wall. But she wasn’t about to give up.
He never normally did that, but then again, he’s never normally driving around at midnight drunk. They were headed towards Chappy’s, the beer distributor her stepfather owned, or at least in that general direction. When Chappy’s sign was visible it all fell together for her. Brandi, her stepfather’s girlfriend, went out. They were on their way to pick her up. Uncertain of just how far they were going, she turned to Ed, her stepfather, and began to flip out, again.
“Dad! You ARE kiddin’ me right?! We were home! You could NOT have jus dropped me tha f*** off? Wud tha h*ll is yer problem? Tha b**ch can walk home, I hate her!” She was obviously hitting a nerve, his smirk faded to a contemplative stare. “Dad, yer drunk! Lemme out! I’ll fu**in’ walk home!”
He swerved again and pulled up onto one of the medians on the road. “Fine! Git out, b**ch!”
She did just that. She turned towards their development and started to walk. It was warm, as any mid-summer night was. It was a tad humid, hopefully it would rain tomorrow. She had taken no more than five steps before she heard a car’s engine. She turned to see who it was. It was Ed. He threw the car in drive and came straight at her. In a fit of rage she slammed her tiny hand into the hood. She, unpretentiously, let it go. He was drunk and she knew that that; she began to walk away, again.
A door slammed in the silence of the city night. Quick footsteps followed. She turned in time to catch the fist of an angry drunk in her soft, delicate face. It sent her to the ground. The fall hurt, one hand taking the brunt of the fall and her wrist twisting under the awkward angle she had landed in. As she tried to push herself to her knees, she turned to see her stepfather, the aggressor, take a step and kick her back to the ground. He followed up with commanding kicks to her side. She laid face down on the cement. The sidewalk was colder than ice and rougher than sandpaper. Small rocks, sharper than barbed wire, stabbed into her helpless heap.
With every last ounce of energy she had inside herself, she got to her feet without knowing he wasn’t done. Before he had the satisfaction of running off, he wound up one last time and slugged her across the face. Somehow she remained on her feet. He ran back to the car, slammed the door and put the car in reverse. She could see her little brother in the backseat; he wasn’t dumb, he was 11 for God sake. He knew what happened and she could see him crying; long tears of disbelief and horror rushed down his tanned summer cheeks.
Before she could blink, the car was out of sight. She looked around as if she was expecting someone to have seen it happen. But no, the street was dead, not a living thing in sight. She turned around in circles forever in an attempt to figure out where she could go. She reached to her head, she had a ghastly headache. When she pulled her hand back down, it was covered in blood and tears. She wasn’t even conscious of the fact that she was crying. Her nose was bleeding, she could tell. But there was too much blood to be coming from one place; she assumed she had other cuts.
In a panic she started to wander, unsure of where she would end up. She just wanted a place to sit and collect her thoughts. A safe haven. If you had asked her name, she was more than sure she wouldn’t have been able to tell you. But the one thing she did know was that she needed a safe haven, now more than ever.
It was no longer summer, no, it wasn’t mid-July and beautiful. It felt as if it were November and cold; she found herself grasping her bare arms uncovered by the summer t-shirt she had spent hours looking for. She looked everywhere for a place to sit. There it was, right in front of her, a heavenly glow engulfed it.
DV. She tried to run but quickly fell to her knees. “Take it slow, it’s not goin’ anywhere,” she thought to herself. The gate was locked. It was after all, past dusk. She eyed up the gate. She had climbed it before, but this time was different. Her entire body had just barely enough strength to remain standing, let alone scale a ten or eleven foot fence. She figured at this point, the curb will suffice.
Her fingers were stiff as ice as she fished around in her black softball sweatpants’ pocket for something, anything. A bobby pin. She scurried as best she could back to the fence, grabbed the lock and with a practiced twist, jab and pop, she was in.
She never remembered the rec center as dirty and broken down as it was. But to this born-and-raised-Philadelphia-princess, it was still beautiful. The playground to her left, with memories of games of tag. To her right, the basketball court. Something she knew so well, hustling; her first hustle was on that court. Just to the right of that, the old beaten up batting cage. She walked her beaten up self towards the batting cage and picked the next gate’s lock. And as if to wipe clean everything that happened that day there it was, the ball fields. At least that’s how they referred to them in the city.
They were just baseball fields to any outsiders passing by, but to them, they were their ball fields. She stood along the north field’s outfield gate and ran her fingers along it until they found the plywood dugout.
The dugouts were nothing special, just a space for teams to sit and escape the brutal summer sun or the spring and fall sun showers. As if nothing else could go wrong, a droplet of water hit her cheek and slid down to ultimately fall from her chin. She looked to the heavens, a loud clap of thunder sounded and pouring rain followed. At first she remained where she was. Just standing. Standing in the pouring summer rain. She let the rain rinse her face of the blood.
God had sent the rain to wash her face, but more importantly, to show her that he was crying too, she was convinced of that. He saw the fight Leanne and she had and he was the only of two witnesses to the fight between her and Ed. As much as she wanted to stand out in the rain and cry with him, she needed to stay dry, who knew how long she would end up out here.
She shuffled into the dugout and took a seat on the splintering wooden bench. She snatched her ruby red phone out of her pocket, it was always a wonder to her of why it had to be red, red always made her angry. But as she sat, wooden splinters digging through her sweatpants she tried to think of who to call. While her logical brain though of the smart thing to do, her free spirited heart dialed a number. Without thinking, she called it and sat on the ringing line.
“Hello?... Jay?” And with those two little words, she knew she was going to be okay. She knew that no matter what they were fighting about that afternoon, her best friend, in the entire world, was going to stay on that line until the world ended.





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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

Nona said...
Jun. 25, 2009 at 2:04 am
Could not stop reading this story.
 
schwartzie08 said...
Jun. 22, 2009 at 6:46 pm
amazing.
 
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