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“You're an animal! I told you to clean that pig sty of yours last week!” His fat, ugly face was turning shades of red. I was getting sick and tired of his hypocrisy.
“Oh, and you always clean your room right, Frank? No dirty underwear on the floor. No empty bottles of Jack Daniels”, I remarked sarcastically. “Mom just loves its condition doesn't she?” His face is turning a nice shade of purple now.
“This is my house and you'll do what I tell you to do! Now clean your room or get out of my house!”
“Fine.”, I replied. “I'll go see what Tracy's dad is baking for her now.”
“Oh, honey. Frank didn't really mean that, didn't you?” Frank didn't respond.
“No, Mom. He did. And I meant what I said too. All he does is binge, scream at you and me and then you go cover for him at work. 'Amanda! Why don't ya go tell old Dink that I'm sick, for your sweet husband, eh?' ”, I imitated. “He just bosses you around and you do whatever he says! Forget it, I'm off to Tracy's.”
I grabbed my bike and headed out.
I hate him. I hated that cruel jerk. What he had done to my Mom. What he's doing to me. I hate him. He treats Mom like a sheepdog and me the manure. He's the lowlife! He's the animal! He gets drunk and crashes Mom's car. “There's sometin' wrong wit dat car of yours, Amy. It just don't work right”, he slurs. He laughs off any suggestion that he's an alcoholic.
I can barely remember my dad. It was so long ago. I was four when my dad had a sudden heart failure. Me and my mom got along quite well alone for a while. Then she met Frank. At first I was excited to have a new family member...until the moment he walked in like a xxx and started ordering me around.
“Hey Kat! Nice to see ya!”
Oh Tracy. I can always rely on Tracy. When my dad died, she was there. When my mom had bronchitis, she was there. Nothing to do, she was there. Frank...she was there.
“Yeah”, I replied. “Can I come on in?”
“Sure!”, she exclaimed. “My dad just finished his omelet. Wanna have some?”
Oh wow! It was so nice to be in the Baker's home again. “Hey Kat, whats doing?”, Mr. Baker said.
“Nothing much, Mr. Baker”, I replied. “Frank again, ya know?”
“Yeah, well you and Trace can have fun now. I'll be upstairs”, he winked.
“So what's new on the Frank News Station?”, Tracy joked.
“You know, the usual binges and tantrums. I'm just sick of how my mom gives into him so much.”
“Yeah. I don't think you should be so hard on your mom. I mean, she's probably still trying get over your dad...ya know.”
“Yeah, maybe”, I said.
“Oh my gosh! How can I forget? You're invited to my sweet sixteen party! It's Wednesday night. Do you think you can come?”
“Oh, I hope so. Mom will have to let me, and Mom won't let me unless Frank lets her.” I rolled my eyes.
“He better let. If he doesn't you better sneak out or something. Without you, it won't be a party.”
“Alright. I'll try really hard. You mind if I spend the night?”
“Yeah sure. But won't Frank freak?”
“Nah. He's glad to get me out of the house.”
“Frank, Kathy. I have an idea. Both of you get out of the house and start spending time together. Go on a road trip or something, go to the zoo, I don't know! It's time for you people to start forming a bond. Go on! Shoo-shoo!”
“Amy, you don't have to do this to me. Ya know I love the kid! I just...reprimand her for her own good! Ya think she can ever have any chance in life if she's so disrespectful and messy?”
“Maybe, but it's driving me nuts! I'm just sick and tired of your bickering! Now go and start bonding so we can have family! I understand it won't happen in one day but you have to start.”
“Please?”, we said in unison.
“No! Now move!”
Crap. There was no way of getting out of this. For the first time Mom stands up against Frank...the first time we agree on something. We both hated each other.
“And Frank. Don't drink and drive.”
“I won't. I swear.”
The winding path seemed to never end. The car was sliding from side to side on the wet road, tires squealing. At one point they actually bounced off the guardrail a few times. Bad weather + Frank + car + lot's of empty beer bottles. Not a good situation. The rain hammered against the windshield. Each windshield wiper fought mightily against the gargantuan forces. Or were they fighting each other? Fwoopsh! Fwoopsh! It looked light the windshield wipers were in a huge battle. Kinda like me and Frank. First the right: Fwoopsh! Fwoopsh! Then the left: Fwoopsh! Fwoopsh! And they wouldn't stop. They just keep on fighting.
“KATHY! Would you shut the damn radio off?!”
“My pleasure, Frank”, I replied sarcastically. “So nice of you to ask.”
He reached for another beer.
“Frank! Would you stop drinking for one minute!”
“THAT'S IT!” He turned around to face me purple with rage. “DON'T YOU D--!”
“Oh my god! WATCH OUT!”, I shrieked.
The car skid across the street completely out of control. Frank slammed his foot on the brakes and swiveled the steering wheel to no avail. We were flying toward a row of cones meant to block off a ditch.
The tires squealed. There was a faint smell of burning rubber in the air. The airbag exploded. With each time the car bounced around tremors went through my body. Thunderous noises. I tasted blood in my mouth. I thought I could hear the windshield shatter. The safety belt dug into my chest. It felt like the car was being torn up like shredded paper. It was all happening so slowly...
I felt dark and wet. My head hurt. I could not remember where I was...black...utter black...
I woke up gasping for air. The car was mangled and I had blood all over my face. I checked my nose. Yes, it was broken.
I checked out my surroundings. The car was on its side in a ditch. The window was already broken. I climbed out careful not to cut myself on the shards of glass.
There was Frank standing on the side, with ripped clothes, looking otherwise unharmed.
Frank. Frank, that idiot crashed us.
“You almost killed us!”, I rasped. “How the hell are we going to get out of here?”
“Shut up, Kathy!”, If you weren't playing your damn radio so loud, I could have been able to concentrate!”
“What are you talking about?! If you hadn't gone and get drunk we wouldn't be in this place!”
“Oh yeah? Well if you...”
We were at each others throats for the next ten minutes. We both sat down in silence for a half hour brewing in our thoughts.
“I-I-I'm sorry Kathy”, Frank broke out. “In case we never get out of this place...Just know I don't think your such a bad kid...really. I love your mother and I guess I love you...”
I didn't know how to respond. I didn't know if he was sincere.
“Why do you drink, Frank?”, I asked accusingly. “Does it make you feel better? Why do you try to ruin my social life? Does it make you feel better? Does it make you feel better when you beat Mom up? Does it make you feel better when I go to school with a black eye, embarrassed to say my stepfather did this to me?”
Frank sighed. Soft sobs started to rack his body.
“Drinking helps me get away from my troubles. I don't need to think about ruining you life. I don't need to think about your black eye. I don't need to think about hurting the women I love most. I'm a horrible man and a horrible father.”
“Frank. You will never be my dad. But if you try, you can be my friend.”
Frank wiped his eyes. “Alright, alright. Enough of this emotional stuff. Let's figure out how to get home.”