Coke fizzes in a can beside my chair, accompanied by the hum of a video game DVD player on the ground in my bedroom. Robin Williams is stopped not even a third into his show, paused and appearing distraught. A string of long-since stolen orange and purple icicle lights hangs across the closet area, visible from the street and warming the place with a peach glow. The door is closed, because it needs to be right now. I try hard to think myself out of the scenario, but cannot deny the truth that an episode has occurred here and still hangs on in the connected rooms of this house.
When we came in through the front, all seemed well. Typically and in good spirits, a bag of chips crunched. Refrigerator door opened and closed. The microwave heated left over taco salad and my company joined me at the kitchen table for upbeat conversation with appropriate punch lines. I can remember pulling the lid from the Lite Cool Whip and not even bothering to grab a spoon as I sampled it with my finger and recalled earlier in the day when I’d pulled a similar stunt, licking the mustard tip before setting it back. A little disappointed in myself, I scolded, “How primal.”
That’s when Christopher jetted out from his corner and threw the knife’s cover to the floor. The fact he dramatically unsnapped it in front of me registered an estimation of intended emphasis and performance, lacking any shock or surprise. It’s hard to believe your little brother is psychotic when there are so many hints that at the actual core is little more than an adolescent’s show. If he really wanted to stab me, he’d have been less flashy about it. I’d hope.
Unfortunately, being unafraid and challenged to teach punks a lesson is one of the worst ways to behave in front of Christopher, because he can’t stand it when you don’t tremble. He doesn’t know what to do, so he goes nuts. I haven’t learned to bow down to this demand for dominance and I doubt I ever will. With one hand on the refrigerator door and the other gripping a little sai-styled blade, the sibling began rummaging through the shelves after a psych-lurch, which forced me to step back and away in order to avoid being poked by his toy. Or, “pierced by his knife”. However you want to word it.
He was taking inventory, you see. He decided there wasn’t enough leftovers to meet his approval, and while I gathered that this thought process was actually going on, my eyes surveyed my guest at their corners, noting one fearful friend at the opposite end of the room spooning the sacred food into his mouth. We officially had a problem and my attempt to shake Chris from his spell didn’t work. He didn’t want anyone to touch “his” food supply, and had trouble locating all of the salad ingredients because my father had polished off the tomatoes earlier on. Blaming my company for his pain and suffering, he said to me as I followed my guest into the bedroom, “He won’t get out alive.”
Mom remained unmoving underneath her blanket on the couch throughout my report of the erratic and eccentric mood swing. She said something like, “Then stop eating the food”, went back to her movie, and I briefly went into shock. Was this a dream? Did she not hear that I just said her son was standing in the kitchen, staring into the refrigerator with a knife in his hand? Was I crazy? Why is no one doing anything?
Robin Williams was being hilarious, but I couldn’t take my mind off the unavoidable bangs and knocks I heard throughout the house. I’d pretended nothing was wrong and hidden in my room, treating it as a shelter. Always worked before. No one knew Chris was flushing all of his medications down the toilet, getting worse by the minute. Having slept the entire day and gone without drugs to please his mother, he was irate and hyping himself up to no end. I would not have a day without chaos, I knew, as I began to hear plastic and carbonation sound effects from Chris’ attack on the gallon of milk and other defenseless groceries around him.
So here I am, my guest, escorted out. I hung briefly in the shadows with folded arms, standing beside Dad and helplessly observing Mom in Chris’ doorway, speaking of hospitals and ends of the line. She started to cry. Then I was back behind my door, not listening but hearing the depressing decline of muffled conversation. It has me wondering about tomorrow.
Another 24 hour waiting game to see if anyone gets hurt.