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Detached

My father never loved my mother.

I don’t blame him too much; she was a tramp. He was a proud German man, and she a wild Italian jewel, and she knew it. She ran around with other men just to spite my father ‘cause she hated his indifference. He would always sit back in his recliner while she yelled and yelled at him for not loving her. I never did see how he could, not when she ran off and slept with every man she could sink those perfectly manicured claws into. I picked up Italian from my mother, ‘cause she yelled at my father a whole lot. She never got good at German, and when she was real brassed she could only spout off her milk-tongue. My father just sat there in his old, beat up hunk of leather and stuffing I called the “Bear,” and looked at the wall as if he were up and seeing right through it.

I never understood this when I was a boy, never understood my loveless family. My favorite place to go was this little strip of land where two rivers met about walking distance from my house over two hills. I always fancied the wider river on my left hand side to be my father,
– I preferred my left side to my right; it’s dominant – and the slender, winding river my mother. Then where they met and made one was me, and that river kept on flowing ‘cause of my father’s love for my mother. But my father never loved my mother, and my mother never loved me, and I guess that just flows thick in my veins ‘cause I ain’t never loved nobody either. It’s funny how a child’s imagination works; funny and stupid.

My mother named me Abbadon, after the Angel of Destruction, ‘cause I destroyed her marriage. I think that “marriage” was synonymous with “body,” though, ‘cause she got fat after having me, and none of her lovers called on her anymore. If I were my father, I would have laughed. Well, I laughed anyway, and I got licks with a wooden spoon for it. My mother hated me?she never wanted a son anyway?and she ignored me when she wasn’t hitting me. But I didn’t care much; I didn’t like her ‘cause she didn’t like me, so I sat criss-cross-applesauce by the Bear and my father, while she stayed in the kitchen. None of that matters anymore though; 29-year-old-grown-ups aren’t supposed to fret about the past.
He was a quiet man, strong, and worked his hands down to the bone in the ship-yard. He was a proud German man I’ve said, with heavy-set, summer blue eyes that crinkled with tangible years, and hair like sheaves of grain. He was born and raised in the country, but my mother made him move to the city. He didn’t talk much, but he once told me he’d take me to where he used to live, without my mother. He never got around to that, though; had a heart-attack and died in his sleep. I found him in the Bear; he looked happy for once.
It brought me pride to have my father’s surname, Langely. Abbadon Langely. I carved it into a tree one time near that river I told you about. I stand here now, at that tree that looks at those two rivers, which are a burst of blues and pinks, and grays and slates, all the colors of December. I like to sit down and paint in the winter, with a small canvas and lead-based paint. It’ll probably make me sick, but it’s the only kind that gets the color right.
Today, I stand here, and I rub my bare fingers over my name in that tree. My fingers hurt and burn, reddened by the cold, but I don’t like to wear gloves. I have this tan jacket trimmed in white fur that keeps me warm enough; I just stuff my fingers down in my pockets with the cold tubes of paint.
I want to be the world’s greatest artist, but I have a condition called tetrachromacy, and basically I, the “sufferer,” see a larger gradient of colors than a “normal person”. For a long time, people thought it was only found in animals, but now it has started popping up in a select few lucky homo sapiens. I can paint amazing pictures with amazing detail, but no one can see them ‘cause no one sees colors like me. One day, long after I’m dead, they’ll have an artist like me, with these same messed up eyes, with my same sob story, and he’ll be famous. They will probably have some “tetrachromatic foundation” after I’m dead. Maybe I’ll start it. At least if I was famous, someone – no matter who or where I was—someone would cry at my death.
The snow soaks through to my butt as I sit, but my legs and feet stay dry ‘cause my shrink got me a pair of knee-high boots one year and I wear them everywhere. My legs are sore and they get in my way. Last time they measured me I was 5’11”, and it’s all leg. Denim isn’t very waterproof, and soon I can’t feel my rear, so I give up on my painting and stand, my legs prickling with numbness. I look at the canvas; I only got to the blues and grays, but anyone I would show would just tell me it was white.
I walk home; I don’t live too far. The snow crunches and I sigh a big poof of cloud ‘cause I wish everyone could see my paintings, but I give up. I also wanted to be a writer, but I don’t have much of a way with words, maybe because I never tried to speak right, even with my good vocabulary. My teachers always told me I shouldn’t mix a dialect with big words, and that I was too stupid to amount to anything. I graduated salutatorian.
I see my creaky old house peer above the last hill coming from the river. Its dusty windows look like eyes, and remind me of my own, dull sapphires. I have a pigment defect; my eyes are cloudy as if I were blind, my hair went prematurely white when I hit puberty, and my skin looks like milk, it’s so pale. I suppose I’m a blue-eyed albino, blue running thick in my veins as it did in my father’s, but befuddled by my mother’s lineage.
The creaky old door greets me, as it has done for twenty-nine years now, giving a groan of protest as it shuts itself. It’s cold inside, ‘cause I don’t have central heating, so I’ll probably burn some of my paintings in the fireplace. I put my keys in the bowl sitting on the partition between the entryway and the living room and take off my coat.
The house is empty, and has been since my shrink moved out. He came after my mother left. I don’t know why she did, but between my father’s death, my mother abandoning me, and my loneliness I checked myself in to a therapist. No one knew. I liked to call my shrink Doc’. He took the time to try and find a diagnosis, and eventually told me that all I suffered from was Manic Depression. That made me happy; at least I wasn’t crazy. Doc’ and I had a very carnal relationship, until I went and got myself diagnosed with ‘Emotional Erectile Dysfunction’. He diagnosed me after one of our “sessions” on his desk. I’m a blunt person, so I told Doc’ to tell it to me bluntly. Apparently, the goods are working, I just have too many issues to get it up, so Doc’ dumped me. I haven’t gone back since. Doc’ was just using me, but he still fills my prescriptions when I’m out.
I run my fingers across the Bear as I head to the kitchen. It’s smooth and worn down, and though it hurts my back I can’t bring myself to throw it out. I sit on the floor beside it instead, ‘cause the house is devoid and barren of stuff other than what were my parents’ meager possessions from when they immigrated to America, so I don’t have too much furniture.
My pill box is the only thing on the low table, filled to the brim in the Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday slots. I’m too tired to take my medicine today, and I think I’m well enough to skip it. I have three Doc’ makes me take daily: a purple one for depression (these are supposed to be happy pills. I think that they should be orange or yellow, a happy color), a periwinkle one ‘cause I have an increased spinal fluid pressure and it affects my eyesight, and a white one for fibromyalgia. I blame my mother; she drank. The last item in there is a multivitamin. I like the Flintstones kind; they’re the tastiest. I like to eat Barney. He wasn’t near as negative as Fred, and I don’t want that negativity in my body.
I’m chilled to the bone, literally. That or my fibromyalgia is kicking up; it’s always worse in the winter. The only true supply of warmth in my house is the bath, and the warm water in the tub fills the whole tiny room with steam that casts all the glass into obscurity. I strip in the utility room, my clothes wet from being in the snow, and sprint through the hall to escape the cold that bites at my nude flesh.
A loud noise startles me and I yelp and jump, cringing in the middle of the hall. Once the ebb of adrenaline stops hurting in my chest, my mind tries to trace the noise. It sounded like the bottle of whisky my father threw in the fire one day. It was my mother’s good expensive whisky, which she drank only when she really wanted to make my father angry. I remember I had been sick, and my mother spent the medicine money my father gave her on booze. I was bundled up in a quilt sitting next to my father on the floor when he got up out of the Bear, walked into the kitchen and pulled the diamond cut bottle filled with the amber liquid from the cabinet, then returned to the living room and hurtled it into the fire place. The lovely glass shattered, and I was saddened for some reason at its loss, but then my father came and picked me up – he never touched me – and set me by the alcohol fueled fire and I forgot that sad feeling. That was what the noise sounded like, that shattered glass and my mother’s sobs.
I found the source in the living room: a photo frame that housed an old photo of my parents on their wedding day had fallen from the mantle, and glass had skittered all over the floor. The wood frame broke cleanly along the glued seams, splitting and wreathing loosely the faded paper. I picked it up, looking into my father’s austere features, and as I did so a folded, stained piece of lined paper fell from behind the photo. I slowly unfolded the aged paper, yellowed and tanned, looking down to tight, fluid cursive. It was my father’s handwriting… I recognized the heavy arches on his A’s from when he wrote my name down on the clipboard for the doctor when I was eight.
I pressed the paper to my cheek, inhaling the scent of must and my father’s aftershave. I hadn’t smelled that scent in sixteen years, a scent so burned deep into my memory. I struggled to read cursive, so I held it close to my face to pick out what I could, realizing it was in Italian.

Euphemia, my dearest,

The sun flickers weakly against your flame, the moon grows jealous of you surely as it wanes. Would one kiss be spared from your bloody lips, one glance stolen away from your inamorato…

I had to stop reading for a moment. The paper had translucent in patches scattered across it, warped from what I knew undoubtedly to be my father’s tears. Soon my own joined the dried spots, smudging deep pools of murky ink.

Is there aught I can do to wrest your heart? The hooks you put in mine rust and bleed, my eyes hollow, my soul empties… I long for thy touch, for thy flesh, for the give and warmth, for the scratch of your dark curls. I have not felt this in thirteen years, no, the scratch against the pads of my fingers, against my cheek! Oh, Euphemia, how many men will taste your flesh before I? How much suffering can my heart sustain before it quits? If you read this, I have died and you are throwing away my photo. This letter will never make it past those thick lashes, for if you cannot see my pain now, none of my feelings have worth…
Never had I known this passionate side to my father, never had I seen the love he had for my mother… and the pain it brought him. Parts of his letter to her made me blush they had such passionate language, and made me feel like an intruder upon some private side to him that I was not supposed to know.
And I realized, for all my life, I had misconstrued my father; and now, I hated my mother more than ever. The physical pain she had inflicted upon me desiccated in comparison to the emotional strife she had strained my father with, who watched helpless to stop her.
I folded the letter carefully, as if I held my father’s fragile heart in my hands, and set it back amongst the glass as if I could undo what I had done.
I came back to reality then, realizing that my skin had broken out into gooseflesh from the dank air, and I ran back to my original destination. Shutting the door to the bathroom, I took a massive step to sit on the edge of the tub, square and avocado colored.
I filled it, frothy water spilling into the air loudly, and it had so much iron in it reeked like blood. I don’t know why the water had iron in it. Well, I assumed it was iron from the smell and rust in all of my sinks, but it didn’t seem to cause any problems, so I left it alone.
I eased into the hot water, hissing a bit when it hit sensitive parts of my body. I stuck my knees up and looked into the water, smiling at my reflection. The ghost of myself trapped in the wet prison between my legs offered the best company I had.
Secretly I was a little jealous of him. His cheeks were filled out, not hollow like mine, and he wasn’t anorexic or sickly, and his eyes were shiny, not cloudy. His hair was white, too, of medium length like my own, and fell across his forehead into his eyes like me, but it wasn’t wiry or stringy; it was thick.
“How are you?” he asked me, smiling.
“Tired, cold. I went and painted today,” I responded.
There was enthusiasm in his voice. “Great! How did it go? Where did you paint?”
I blushed shyly and tucked a large portion of hair behind my ear, averting my eyes from his. “I got a little angry at it ‘cause no one would have been able to see it. But I went out to that place where the rivers meet, and I sat under that tree I carved my name into. Abbadon Langely; it’s a strong name for a boy.”
“It is. A good strong name.”
I like the sound of his voice. He doesn’t have my garbled accent, and his English is good.
“I found a letter written by my father to my mother,” I told him, my voice a little weak.
“Oh?” he questioned, his inflection genuinely curious.
“Yeah, I found out I’ve been wrong all of my life about my father. I feel kinda stupid.” I turned my feet inward and squirmed, turning my arms around to bend backwards.
“Oh, don’t feel stupid, your father was a guarded man. Don’t feel bad. Aren’t you glad you got to see a new side of him?” He smiled, eyes filled with some pretty emotion that I wasn’t capable of. I didn’t know what it was, but it looked like he was happy.
“I don’t know… maybe. I just feel like I intruded…” I looked at him. “I’m sleepy, I’m gonna take a nap.”
He smiled. “Okay. I’ll talk to you later?”
“Mhm. You’re so good to me…”

I slid down into the water then, warm and tight, pressing all around me and leaving no space. There were a thousand colors beneath the water, sparkling champagnes and sunset oranges, off-set and accented with coral pinks and deep sapphires, both in the sense of pink and blue. I knew then what it felt like to have a heart rendering feeling. Here, I was the only one who could see this, with my messed up eyes; I alone could see.
Then I closed my eyes, and it all faded into black the one color that none could taint, the one color that everyone saw the same. All the rest faded, burned down around me.
Heat, strong and consuming, burned, seared, scalded my lungs, poured into them, flooded into my being. Something ebbed and flowed in my body, and I assumed it to be my consciousness. Then, nothingness, nothing, but that hollow, empty black. That pretty, pretty black.
Light flooded the darkness, bright white, and for the first time, a white with no other hues mixed into it, and I felt happy for the first time in my life, and somewhere, far off, I heard my father weeping.
END
Abbadon Falkner Langely passed away this Tuesday, December 13, 2011, of a suicide. He was found by his therapist/psychiatrist Reginald “Regi” Esuke in his bath, having drowned himself. Esuke went to visit him after Langely failed to call in his prescriptions. Langely suffered from Manic Depression, but had never showed suicidal tendencies, said Esuke upon interviewing. “I know Abbadon; he was a beautiful boy with a brilliant imagination,” Esuke said with tears in his eyes. “He would give you the flesh of his back if it would make you happy.” Langely survived his father, Claus James Langely who immigrated to America from Germany with his pregnant wife Euphemia Bellipe-Langely. Bellipe-Langely returned to native Italy after her husband’s death in 1994 of a heart-attack, leaving Abbadon Langely on his own. Langley was 29 when he died in his New York home, born March 21, 1981.





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