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Johnson Family Reunion

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Jack sat in a drunken rage. A pitiful sight to be seen. He was alone and cold in the empty motel room. A cheap bottle of scotch lay on the bed side table, but he wasn't on the bed. He sat defeated on the floor. The first three buttons of his shirt unbuttoned. Enough to see the top of his chest hair. His arms flailed to the sides of his legs and his tie messily untied around his neck. Dried tears from weeping clung to his face. His life was a tragic movie that trudged on through his multiple suicide attempts and his constant drinking habit. He cried regularly to himself. He did not talk to people. He listened. He didn't enjoy listening, but he couldn't speak up for himself.

What was he to say? Could he tell them how he spent his weekends? Alone, crying about the woman he loved who barely knew him as more than a friend? Or could he tell them a lie? Perhaps tell them he went fishing with the father he didn't know growing up? Or that he went to visit the mother that disowned him and put him onto the street when he was finally 18? No matter his choice he knew that the workers would laugh at him. His friends were his empty beer bottles. His family was the pillows he clung to as he painfully went to sleep. Painfully because he knew he would wake up in the morning. He prayed for dying. He prayed for his dreadful, sick, twisted, evil, horrible life to end.

Jack's alcoholism was supposed to help with that. The alcoholic tendencies did nothing. He still felt the pain. He still hated his life. Alcohol made it worse, but he became addicted. Addicted to the pain he knew so well. Addicted. The word even made him feel pain. The pain was the only feeling he had. The pain was his life. The pain was him.

Jack's pain often led him to being in a motel room drunken out of his mind sitting and crying.

“F***ing managers,” he cursed, “I don't need a job anyway.”

Jack was fired today. His fifth job in the last two weeks. His emotional issues often caused managers to reconsider the idea of hiring him. The manager of his first job fired him because Jack fell into a dangerous love for her and stalked her. The second manager fired him for angrily beating a customer for shouting while Jack had a hangover. The third manager in the past two weeks told Jack to sweep the floor of the store, but Jack expressed his hatred of sweeping with a flock of curses. For the fourth manager, Jack, in a drunken stupor, came into the store had closed and excreted his bowels on a toilet display, only to be seen on video camera. Finally the most recent manager fired Jack because Jack had disrespected the manager by vomiting on the manager's desk. However, Jack tried to explain that if the woman in the picture on the manager's desk wasn't so repulsive. How was Jack supposed to know that was the manager's wife?

Jack's never been the type to marry or even hold a relationship for that matter. His longest relationship was 20 minutes. He met his date, took her to a restaurant, and blacked out he ordered the eighth bottle of whiskey. Jack was only 23 at the time. Today he is six years older and at the age of 29 he has held over 34 jobs in 16 different states.

Jack's psychiatrist has phone consultations specifically for him. Jack hasn't spoken to his psychiatrist in six months and still doesn't believe that he needs help.

“The f*** are you looking at?” Jack questioned the scotch bottle, “Am I not good enough for you?” He swatted it. “I'm sorry,” he mumbled while crying, “I didn't mean to hurt you. I don't know what to do. I just don't know anymore.”

Someone knocked at the door. He crawled to the locks. He unlocked the door and opened it. He had no care if he was about to die. He wanted to die. At the door a tall figure stood, a man in a uniform. An officer. Jack looked up.

“Sir are you okay?” the officer asked, “Sir we've had reports of disturbing the peace. Are you okay sir?”

Jack was unsure of how to respond. He was never asked if he was okay. He wanted to say no. He wanted to have someone care. But he just sat there. Drunk. Alone. Cold. He sat there looking at the cop. As if he were some sort of stupid chimpanzee that didn't understand any language.

“Come with me sir,” the officer commanded. “We'll get you some help and we'll get you cleaned up.”

Jack was escorted into the car. The officer sat in the front. There was some sort of strength in the officer's voice. For some unknown reason, Jack felt as if he could trust him.

“Thank you,” Jack whimpered.

“Huh?” the officer said for he didn't hear.

Jack cleared his throat of the lump. “Thank you,” he managed to say loud enough.

“That's not usually the response I get when someone's back there,” the officer chuckled, “Why are you thanking me?”

“I don't know. I feel that you're taking me somewhere safe.”

“Well, I suppose it's safe. How much did you have to drink?”

“I'm not sure, but I have a question if you don't mind.”

“What's that?”

“Can you help me find my father?”

The officer was stunned. He couldn't think of any way to respond. Jack sat. The awkward silence was taken to mean no. Jack passed out and was carried inside by officers.

Jack awoke on an early Tuesday morning in a small confined room and was unsure of where he was. A woman officer walked in with another officer behind her.

“Officer Sanden brought you in last night,” she told him, “Do you feel alright?”

“I guess,” Jack said, “What happened?”

“You had a bit too much to drink,” the second officer interjected, “Sanden was hoping to see you if you didn't mind.”

“Okay,” Jack said unsure of what to expect.

The three walked down a corridor into a small waiting area. One of the officers went to speak to a man across the room and signaled for Jack and the woman officer to come over. Jack went over and saw the officer from the previous night.

“Do you remember what you asked me to help you with last night?” the officer said.

“No. I don't really remember anything,” Jack said.

“You asked me to help you find your father.”

“I did?”

“Yes. And I found a few results for you in the database. I checked your wallet for your name and found that you and your father have similar records for public intoxication. Perhaps you can go see him.”

“Well I thank you for the help, but I don't think I could ever amount to anything he'd want to see.”

“I regret to say this, but he's in the city right now. He was brought in a week ago on public intoxication and had to go to the hospital. He may have been checked out, but you could possibly go see him. His name is Nathaniel Johnson.”

Jack's eyes went ice cold. A chill ran up his spine. The name burned into his mind. Nathaniel Johnson. He thanked the officer, dressed himself, and left the station. He proceeded on towards the hospital only four blocks away. He walked. Afraid of what may happen when he meets his father. He finally reached the hospital. A tall building. Nearly 30 stories reaching into the smog sky.

The doors slid open automatically. Nurses walked by and patients covered their backsides by grasping their scarcely covering gowns. He walked to the desk.

“Can you look someone up for me?” he asked the receptionist.

“Of course,” she said with a smile, “What's the name?”

“Nathaniel Johnson,” he cringed as he said it. The name made him want to vomit.

“Room 1408.”

“Thank you.”

“Have a nice day”

A nice day? How could he have a nice day? The abandoned child who is going to see the man he hated the most and blamed for all of his problems. How could that be a nice day?

Jack reached the elevator. He stood in it along with several other people. He pressed the 14 button. The child next to him held a helium balloon with a smiley face on the front and “Get Well Soon” in cursive on the back. Behind him a man cried, he was going to the 30th floor, the morgue. The woman with him held him, but she seemed uncaring. The elevator music was songs from the 1980's without lyrics. Jack finally reached his floor. He stepped off into the smell of rubber gloves and floor wax. He walked to the signs that said where the rooms were. He turned left and began to walk.

He read no signs, he just walked. He had the sudden urge to look over his right shoulder. He turned and saw it. Room 1408. He crept towards the room. He walked through the open door. He saw a man, laying on a bed. His father.

“Who are you?” Jack's father asked.

“I'm...” Jack couldn't speak.

“Well? Who are you?”

“I'm your son,” Jack choked out.

“Jack? Jack Johnson?”

Jack couldn't speak. He only nodded.

“Well then. I guess it's not the best time to see me.

“Well it's the only time I've ever seen you...”

“Jack. I know you just met me, but you should have just gone on in life without me.”

“What the f**k is that supposed to mean? Am I just supposed to live without knowing who the deadbeat of a man my father is?”

“No Jack it's just... Jack... I'm dying. I was brought in to the ER with liver cancer. It's too far along to cut out. The doctors say that I'm going to die today.”

“F***ing serves you right. Leaving that b**** and me all alone? I don't even know why I'm here. Have fun going to hell you prick.”

Jack stormed out.

“JACK!” His father shouted from the doorway. “I'm sorry for everything.”

Jack stopped. He wouldn't face his father. He heard a loud thud. A flat beep. His father fell to the ground dying. Jack walked on. He went to the elevator. He chose the roof as his destination.

Jack exited the elevator and stood on the roof. He looked over the city on the edge of the roof. A weight lifted off of his shoulders, but he was still in pain. Jack stood looking at the sky. A bug flew into his face. Jack slapped at the fly. The jerking motion threw him off balance. Screams and shrieks were the last things Jack heard as he plummeted to the ground.

Happiness was the last feeling Jack had. He landed on the cement. Jack was a sad man throughout his life, but Jack's happiest day was the day he died. Jack felt no love in his life. Jack's life was his chains, but his death was his freedom.



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