Fuck, this salsa is mild.
Potato chips make shitty replacement for the tortilla, but I need something to snack on during time travel through people’s minds. Fewer things are grosser than feeling tiny grains of salt over the keys, so I’m keeping a damp towel nearby for my fingers. Scouting new logs turned up the usual results, tonight: “Hello Journal. I’m bored”, the classic “let’s post unoriginal material” and one very lonely dead end, “I’m sorry, I can’t do this anymore”. It reminded me of my own evolution and childish antics pulled in space. Thank you, those who put up with the questionable personality. I’ve stripped away all decorative code before, disabled comments, refused to show my face, whined and cried that I was invalid, and pretty much performed every annoying move online.
You’d take up surfing too, if your memories were like the ones I acquired today.
The owner of a motor home passed by our property one summer, musing, “What’s this, the Fisherman’s Special?” loud enough for Dad to hear. Friends who lasted more than a handful of visits eventually had to ask, “Why is your dad always out there?” My dad stays in a trailer beside our house because my mother wouldn’t allow him to drink or smoke around her children. He moved in there shortly after my mother’s evil domestication had shaped her husband’s garage into another bedroom. He needed a new place to play his rock and roll.
Waking up and hearing Bob Dylan music blasting from outside is a common reassurance that it’s another normal day. A string of Christmas lights glow all year long across the windows, and the refrigerator is full of beer cans and a bottle of Tabasco sauce. I’ve learned not to go too deep – under the confetti of speaker wire, coupon clippings and trinkets are the kinds of things you regret digging up. You’ll be holding handwritten letters to no one, about shell shock or how he should have died with his friends, running across a folder of files from failed AA, or lifting the lid off a cooler of pornography and think, “God, I wish I hadn’t come out here.”
Dad has strong hermit behavior and a tendency to be paranoid. Every year, it gets a little stronger and he’s currently convinced that our cellar’s canned goods are being sold for drugs. (As if a dealer is going to hand my brother a joint in exchange for cream of chicken, or something.) Needless to say, he hates company. Problem is, Christopher has been allowing friends to come by in the early morning hours and wander around the property, making my dad’s blood boil. He’ll sit in the trailer and stew about how his family is trying to make his life miserable on purpose. It’s always a 50/50 shot, which side of him walks through the door, but Roy’s presence should have kept me on guard.
“If you hear him coming, you can always duck into my room, you know,” I say, as we’re dressing hamburgers. “Whether I’m here or not.”
Roy nodded, snatched his plate and scooted into the haven with lilac carpet immediately. We began discussing the severe sunburn on his shoulders, my dad’s obscenities causing us to laugh nervously. Steady visitors have gotten used to my dad’s outbursts, and we kept on the topic of fried skin until the noise didn’t sound at its healthy level of dysfunction. My mother started screaming for help and Lacy was barking.
One second later, from having had a year without schizophrenic episodes, I heard Chris snap. I can’t remember what it sounded like for the life of me, to describe. It was impossible to see him jump my dad, but I was on my feet and running. Whatever he did – pounded, stomped, yelled – I responded as though our progress was never there. Suddenly, I’m standing in the kitchen and see my family is in a pile, on the floor. My mother is making attempts to strike my dad, who is covering Chris to the point that I can’t even see him. Now, Chris is crying for help.
“Get off him, you bastard! I’ll call the police!” was all I had to go by when I started screaming orders for my dad to “let go of Chris and stand up!”, and struck my dad until he released my brother. As soon as I stepped back, Chris zipped out and Dad fumbled to his feet.
“MOM, GET OFF HIM NOW.”
There was a lot of screaming and attempts to collide, so I was shouting commands to “shut up!” and shoving people off one another. For the first time, 3 of us at once seemed to be in this strange state of confusion, and they each stood kind of hunched over, zombie-like and more dumbfounded with every gesture I made. Finally, no one was going to try to kill anyone tonight.
A dinner plate was thrown against the stove and slices of ceramic and lettuce littered the floor as additional, unnecessary aftermath.
“Oh, nice stunt. No stunts!” I warned behind me, as they relocated to separate ends of the house. Lacy was mopping the food off the floor and I became worried that she’d lick up a shard of plate that would slice her throat open.
“Come on, Lacy, outside you-“
Looking down, I froze at the sight of my companion of 98 dog years having her top and bottom teeth wrapped around my arm. Didn’t even hurt. Didn’t believe it, at first – my brain started accessing information-
maybe she really wanted to eat that food
maybe she’s going blind and doesn’t recognize me
maybe she’s sore and I’m grabbing her too hard
maybe she’s in shock
The same dog who got her head smashed in by a truck and let me touch her face with a wet towel was now telling me how the story ended.
The same dog that used to distract my mother long enough for her to take a good kick or slam instead of me, was working her teeth through my flesh.
“After all this time?” or something like it, staring into her betraying eyes.
The first thing I said when I reached the lilac was, “So what were we talking about?” and Roy had frozen in the chair, a tight grip on the sides and eyes as wide as dinner plates.
* in an attempt to aid those with ADD, several words were made bold for easier concentration.