Never Even

March 11, 2010
By , Benton, AR
Mick stepped into the sick yellow light of his front porch. His dark well-kept clothes and shiny black hair making him seem like a shadow that had torn itself from its brothers. Pausing he stared up the few steps to the brilliant white door, feeling the blood drain from his already pale and angled features. He kept his face calm though, not letting the set of his slim shoulders change. Standing there, his green eyes slightly squinted against the light: Mick didn’t think anyone could guess the emotion he tied to that door, though it seared through him like lightning, fear, the only emotion he felt capable of.
He took a deep breath, feeling a cold hand grab his insides, and whispered, “Time to face the gates of Hell.”
Taking his keys out of his pocket he mounted the steps, thickly soled shoes barely making a sound. Heart pounding in his ears, he could barely register the jingling in his clenched hand. One after another, every step seemed like an eternity, his thoughts racing through his head. “Alright, I’ll just go in, get my stuff, and get out. I’ll be free of this mess. Man, I wonder how many he’s had tonight. Maybe he’s passed out already. Better, maybe the S.O.B’s poisoned himself.” Mick refused to think of the cold metal thud that came from his pocket. Ignored the polished wood sticking out, in easy reach of his hand. He refused to acknowledge it – it was just in case. One after another, the steps came, ‘til he faced the devil’s door.
Whispering a small prayer, Mick unlocked the door and eased it open, hoping it wouldn’t creak. The dark room he tiptoed into was small, barely room enough for the worn out red couch stuffed against the wall and the gently rocking La-Z-Boy in front of the flickering TV. His destination, the stairs to his room, lay beyond the chair a few yards away.
But Mick didn’t see it. Eyes adjusting to the blue light of the TV he zeroed in on the figure in the chair. Whiskey glass gripped in a huge meaty fist, thick forearm resting on the chair arm, Mick’s father was a huge imposing man who took pride in his drinking. “Never stoop so low as to drink that yella stuff they call beer.” He would say, green bloodshot eyes unable to focus on him. “Sissy stuff there.” Now though, he had his graying head on his chest, red flannel working shirt stretched over a barrel-like torso. The only thing that had ever scared Mick and it was a few feet away.
Trembling, he put his fingers to his cheek, feeling that first black eye. He could remember it like it was yesterday, being surprised to find himself on the ground, never having seen that huge fist coming for his face. He could remember the laughing man that had begged Mick to forgive him, that he’d never do it again. That mantra had died over the years; all that remained was the cause.
Mick took a slow step toward the staircase, never removing his eyes from the sleeping figure. He got halfway there, heavy pocket weighing with every step, and tripped, banging into the wall. “Of course,” he thought hysterically, “the one night the old man takes his boots off.” It was almost enough to make him laugh, almost.
“Mmmeekey? Mmmeekey–boay ees tha yooou?” his father slurred from his chair, words booming in the small room.
“Yes, sir.”
“Whare have yoou beean boay? Ah’ve beean waitieng sence thes afternoon.”
The drunken rage filled words roared through Mick, making the hand that gripped his intestines twist, “I-I-I’ve,” he started, tongue tripping in fear.
“Enough!” the drunk yelled, throwing his glass at his son’s head. Barely missing the glass shattered next to Mick’s ear, the whiskey and broken glass splashing across his face. “ I’m tired of your excuses.” The giant of a man levered himself up from his chair. “I’ve been too soft on you.”
Panicking, Mick flattened himself against the wall, a kid again. But this time as his heart beat frantically against his ribs, he knew he wouldn’t survive the beating. As his dad took a drunken step toward him, Mick’s shaking hand crept for his pocket and he thought, “I’m tired of being scared.” Mick’s dad never even heard the gunshot.





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