The Dope Show
Author's note: Title named after a Marilyn Manson song :)
CHAPTER ONEThe dreadful sound of crashing dinner plates awoke me from a deep, still sleep; Three in the morning and they were hard at it again, but I wasn't at all surprised. It was a nightly routine in our household, which is the main reason I chose to live all the way up in the small attic instead of in my old, spacious room downstairs. Some nights I couldn't hear a thing, and I honestly, deeply appreciated those nights. This night, however, the voices of my parents were quickly escalating and there was no way in hell I could sleep with them arguing at such an obnoxious level. I cursed at myself, staring up at the dark ceiling and waiting for the commotion downstairs to cease.
Mom screamed irritably at Dad, but her voice was no match against his loud, hostile tone. She wouldn't win this argument, I was very sure of it. There was no winning when you were up against an aggressive monster like Henry Scott, one of the best and most terrifyingly blunt businessmen in town. He could easily scare the s*** out of almost anyone without much effort, but not my mother. Not at all. She tried to fight with him, anyway, and I don't know what possessed her to do such a thing, but she fought as hard as she possibly could. And she would lose, because he had such a way with words that no one could ever match up with. I've known this my whole life, therefore I never raised my voice at him even when he raised his at me. It wasn't even worth trying, but I suppose Mom wanted to learn that herself, the hard way.
Dad was a closet alcoholic. Something he would never freely admit to anyone, but it was obvious, to me at least. I could hear it in his voice and even smell it on him sometimes, as if he bathes in liquor daily. I guess Mom didn't see the signs, but when it's your own father and you're forced to watch him throw his life away, things begin to look pretty clear. Over the years, it had taken a vast toll on his personality and transformed him into some fuming lunatic who constantly argued until he made a valid point. Even though he's been wrong many times, he's always right at the end of the argument, because by the time it's over and done with, you will have given up already.
I desperately wanted to go downstairs and tell them to stop fighting, for me, but I knew it wouldn't help anything now. Not after all this time. There was no saving them and that particularly worried me, because I knew that if it couldn't get any better, it could only get worse. I'm your average pessimist; The glass is half empty, and anyone with a true realistic mindset will tell you that. But what was there to be optimistic about, anyway? Things were already bad as it was and I was reaching a certain level of annoyance that I didn't even want to be in the same house as my own parents anymore. The pain of watching your family tear apart is ridiculously unbearable. Watching things change so quickly that eventually the normality of a real family becomes only a unfamiliar memory. I wouldn't wish that feeling on anyone, but it happens. It's life, and life sucks.
"I'm sick of your s***, Henry. Sick of it!" Mom yelled.
She was serious, too. I knew when this woman was pissed off and she was far more than that. I could only imagine the look of absolute disgust on her face as she screamed irritably at him. Eyebrows furrowed, eyes squinted, scowling angrily at my father. She always made that face when she was really livid about something. I've seen it many times as a kid and it scared me more than anything, but now I'm accustomed to it and have gotten used to that expression. Another plate hit the wall. That was her signature way of dealing with anger; throwing plates at the wall. Soon, we wouldn't have any left.
"F*** it, then, Patricia. What do you want me to tell you? It's three in the damn morning, quit bullshittin' me so I can go to sleep. And quit throwing those damn plates, too. Those are expensive."
The business man clearly was not very professional outside of the workplace. Work was one of the many reasons the two of them fought in the first place; He was always working, and I don't mean typical overtime, either. My father went to work at eight in the morning and often didn't return until one or two o'clock at night, when he believed we were sound asleep. Usually Mom was passed out by then, but I was wide awake, wondering what he was actually up to. He had never worked this much before. He said it was a big time for the office, and that was his only reasoning as of why he was never home. It wasn't until my mother received a revealing phone call that she grew suspicious of his actions.
There was a woman, apparently. A beautiful woman. At least that's what I've gathered from the numerous wars my parents have had at night. A woman who he spent time with at the local bar, according to my mother's friend Helen who called months ago to regrettably inform her about it. I've never seen her so upset in my life, and it tore at her repeatedly. Since then, she couldn't let it go. Their entire relationship was on the rocks because of this mysterious lady, and there was nothing she could do about it.
Of course, Henry Scott denies any relations with her, but deep down he knows he screwed up pretty bad and still loves my mother with all of his heart. I could see it in his eyes, despite how hard he tried to act like he didn't care at all. No woman could be more beautiful than my mother. She was about five foot six with long black curls and glowing tan skin that was still smooth, even with age. Any man would kill for a chance with her. Dad and I both knew that, but clearly that didn't stop him from cheating on her. Don't get me wrong, there are times when they do get along, but those times only last for a short period of time before another argument quickly rises to the surface.
"I'll quit when you tell me what was so special about that woman. What's her name, Henry? At least have the courtesy to tell me that. I can't believe you thought you'd get away with this." Mom shouted. "After all I've done for you!"
I laid motionless in my bed, wondering if they knew I could hear every single word being said, or if they even cared. I was almost positive that they didn't. Maybe if they realized I still existed, they would come to their senses and stop fighting. They would realize how it affected me, their only son. But I was sure that those things wouldn't cross their mind, not even once. It wasn't like we were close, anyway. Conversation with them wasn't something that happened on a daily basis anymore. I was lucky to even hold a two minute conversation with one of them, let alone get the three of us in a room together. We used to be a happy family, but things change. Things change pretty fast, and I really don't have a logical explanation for that.
It was quiet down there now, and I imagined Dad standing there running his hand through his slightly graying brown hair, running a list of excuses through his mind in attempt to pick the best one. He was pathetic for that. Pathetic for stepping out on his own wife. But then again, what did I know? I was only a seventeen year old boy. For all I knew, maybe he really wasn't cheating. Maybe he really was working late at the office.
Nothing was said for a few minutes, at least. I heard Dad clear his throat, but nothing even slightly important came out. Not an alibi. Not an apology, either, when it was clear that my mother deserved one. Just a mumble of sounds that had no significant meaning. And certainly not an answer to the question.
"Well?" Mom said impatiently.
"Her name is Joanna, but we're just friends. She's a coworker's wife. I told you that thousands of times."
"Bull. Did you think that up in your head just now?" My mother was raging at that point, huffing and puffing about the woman and threatening to throw another plate. Three forty-five in the morning and they were still going at it like the rest of our neighborhood wasn't asleep. I was sure our neighbors were all wide awake now, if they hadn't woken up a half an hour before. My parents were noisy enough to wake the whole block. I sighed heavily, pulling my navy blue cotton blanket over my head, hoping to block out the argument.
I remember when they used to be happy together, but those times were long, long gone. Marriages these days don't always last forever, and it's unfortunate how terribly they end. Even though my parents have been together for over twenty years, all of us knew the end was considerably near. It was pretty evident when Mom started telling him to sleep on the couch in the living room, instead of in their bed with her. Things just went downhill after that. It was irreparable damage and Dad couldn't fix what he had done to the family.
Their ruined, pathetic excuse of a relationship put a damper on my life, despite the fact that I didn't really have the kind of life other teenagers my age had. I was just another face at Stonebrook High; The only loyal friend I had was Christopher Lawrence, a skinny, tall, awkward boy I've known since the kindergarten days. And if I wasn't over his house playing video games, I was stuck at home, which was honestly the last place I ever wanted to be.
"You don't have to fucking believe me, but I'm going to bed and that's the end of it. Sleep upstairs and cry yourself to sleep, I don't care anymore." he said.
With those words, he automatically won the battle. He had hit Mom's soft spot. She wouldn't have much to say after that, but what could she say, honestly? Everything that was going to be said was already out there in the open. He wasn't going to confess to cheating on her with this Joanna woman, and Mom certainly wasn't going to press him any more about it tonight. Instead, she would go upstairs and cry herself to sleep, like he said. But before that, she would tell him to go f*** himself, pretending to be tough.
Pretending wasn't going to do much. The look in her eyes would give away the hurt and betrayal she truly felt. Maybe Dad didn't care after all. If he did, maybe he'd comfort her. Maybe he would try to convince her he was telling the truth, or that he loved no other woman but her. But he didn't. He didn't try at all.
I laid patiently, staring at my window, trying to fight back the heavy tears I could feel clouding up my eyes. They were tears of anger and sadness, two emotions that should never go hand-in-hand. I was pissed off at the world, and I had a right to be pissed. Who wouldn't be? I lived in a house with two people who thrived off of their own pit of hateful words and arguments. Two people who didn't realize just how much it affected their child.
The moment I felt myself getting out of bed and slipping my beat up off-white Nikes on, I wasn't even quite sure of what I was doing. My body was taking over before my mind even had a chance to think about it. By the time I escaped out of the attic window and scrambled down the old maple tree in the backyard, I still didn't know what I was about to do. I had absolutely no clue, but I needed to get away. I didn't know where I was going, or how long I'd be gone for. I just wanted to leave. Get some fresh air. Enjoy the night. But at the time, I just didn't know how insane that night would turn out to be.