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Bleeding Through the Blinds
I took a very large fork and jammed it into the steak, which was once alive. I wondered if it knew what was coming for it—before the cow was turned into steak, I mean. For all I knew, someone could just as well jag holes in me sooner or later, with the metal poking through my flesh, my guts already disposed in a mile-high pile of waste. And as the once frozen broccoli and every ounce of that tough meat prodded through my system, I still wondered if it knew what was coming. Because something’s coming for all of us, inevitably. We are all bound to that something which drives towards us, bleeding through the blinds that slowly unveil our fate day by day. Regardless of any plans of escape, the very window behind such blinds will lock before us—or perhaps it has been locked the whole way—as it appears that whether the window resides shut or open, little is granted to us, regarding the choice of it all. Of course, regarding our own lives, no advantages are granted to us, whether we know just what is coming, or whether we haven’t the slightest clue.
That’s when I heard a knock at the door. It must be Jeanie, I thought. I hurriedly scratched the scraps of my meal into the garbage pail with my fork and rested my dish and such in the sink. I headed towards the foyer, right towards the front door, and then I saw her. I was right. As soon as I opened the door, her sweet scent—which usually sort of smells like a blend of the doctor’s office and the Italian meals her mom always cooks—came splashing at me, sending my senses off to a dreamlike state. The only light shining on her face came from the porch lamp above her, but even without it, her beauty would have still grasped my consciousness. It always does.
All this flooded my brain, yet all I said to her was, “Hi Jeanie, how are you?” She looked up at me and smiled (she was about five inches shorter than I am), and said, “I’m good, Grayson, how are you? Your mom’s still at work, right?”
“Yeah, well, she gets done with work at five, but I’m guessing she went out to eat by herself afterwards anyway, so don’t worry,” I reassured her. I reassured myself…that there wouldn’t be a scene tonight.
“And I saw your dad…sitting in the—”
“—car drinking, I know. Just leave him there. I’m supposed to be his responsibility; he’s not mine.”
As she breathed in deeply, elusively nodding her head down at the scratchy, wooden floor, seemingly to show agreement with me, she began to speak again.
“Your mom can always tell him to—”
“—buy his own fucking beer? His own fucking cigarettes? Pay his own way through life? Fucking stop torturing her, so she can stop torturing me? Yeah, she can always do that. Anytime now, honey. Anytime.” My head began to throb as it often does…I could feel the pressure mounting on my temples, and I couldn’t even look at Jeanie while I spoke. Not while I felt like this. But I knew she could easily see and feel my fury, even if I didn’t quite look at her right then and there, as if I was a child shielding my eyes from imaginary monsters. It was obvious—I was obvious, and then I heard myself speaking again…“Once next fall comes…Next October, I don’t even have to live here anymore. I don’t have to be her slave and their machine that does everything they don’t feel like doing, but my dad isn’t even capable anymore. He’s way past not feeling like doing a thing for any purpose or anyone, including his own self. He might as well be retarded…but my mom will end up killing herself over him. Over all of the things she does for him, including giving him money for the one thing she wishes he wouldn’t buy or want… because she wishes he would want her again…instead of the booze…and instead, she goes crazy on me…” I lost steam. My thoughts began to trail off and fade towards what was standing in front of me. Jeanie. She was right here and I had nothing to worry about and everything to escape from. We both inhaled, as I straightened out my body and raised my head away from the floor that I had been fixated on while I spoke, finally wanting her to see me now that I was somewhat calm. And we said nothing. Yet, everything worth saying was said.
“Your mom can—” she stopped short.
She let out a languid sigh, while she directed her head down toward her feet just like I had a minute prior, probably figuring she could have just kept our conversation the way it left off. But once Jeanie realized I wasn’t going to say another word, she continued with, “She can get help, then…unlike you father. This doesn’t have to be it with her. She’s very…emotionally distressed.”
There was nothing else I could say. I was just relieved I didn’t have to deal with such distress tonight.
“We should go now, so we can get back here by ten thirty,” Jeanie advised. Eleven o clock is the New Jersey provisional license curfew, and we usually took my white truck. Jeanie left her car at my house, knowing we’d come back so she can make it home before curfew. We didn’t like riding in separate cars, because then we wouldn’t be able to listen to music together like we always did— although, if we did start taking both cars, it would slightly save us time, about ten minutes actually, but there was never enough time anyway. In the long run, we will have run out of it, and whether we wasted it on the way or used it to our fullest, it won’t matter. Not to Time, anyway. And whether I knew exactly what was in store for me sometime in my future, or whether that cow knew it’d be drugged, fed with indigestible corn, and slashed to its death, it would still have reached my plate. It would have had to face the inevitable. Just like the rest of us.
* * *
Jeanie, for all this time, knew how I felt. About everything. Not only because this had been going on for as long as we had been dating (four years), but because we flat out knew each other. One glance at her and I could feel her need to uplift me…to be there with me and help me distance myself from my situation by being closer to her. Things were okay because she told me so, but too often I wondered if I would have her forever and that if everything that happened to me really was predestined, I hoped the fates could at least allow me to keep this one worthy aspect of my life. Because if I couldn’t keep my best friend, I would easily know that whoever outlined this whole life thing is flat out rotten and probably enjoys dooming people for as long as they have to live on a daily basis, or so it so often seemed, and that such creators of helpless mortals like myself are not, nor will they ever be, worth trying to please.
So I parked the car in our usual spot directly in front of the fence. The other side of this fence was another section of graves, and also the highest point of Flemington. We would usually walk around there more often, but since it was January, we saw no point in freezing off our asses—at least, not today. Some days were better than others, but lately I found myself fed up…with the life I’ve been subjected to by someone or something…Perhaps it was my parents, or maybe I just had damn bad luck. But more than anything, it felt like my dad was meant to flat out drown himself within his drinking habits and to ignore my mother’s compassion for him, exactly so she could take it out on me…and that no matter what I have or could ever try to do, I was always meant to be placed on the dinner plates of my parents, while they picked apart my flesh and sanity with their own instabilities. And of course, they were never quite meant to torture me or liberate enough blood from my body all at once to kill me. Nah, that would be too humane of them. The blood would simply and slowly seep from between those all-mighty blinds of the window that relentlessly reveals my ultimate destiny. And ever so simply and slowly, I was dying—yet, something had kept me feeling alive.