“Hey Ma, What are we doing for dinner?” I ask head back with feet up, scrolling through my feed. No one responds, “What are you thinking Hen?” Their silence continues. Looking to Jimmy across the fake bear skin rug, his eyes were sad. He looks back to the TV.
Some yuppie in a lab coat droned on, “… If you or a loved one suffers from an alcohol or drug addiction, call us today. You never know when tomorrow might be too late. Call our toll free…” Doc McFucktard had my family horrified.
Their eyes focused on me as if they all just learned I have testicular cancer in my left, right, and middle huevos. Sally flops her face into her father’s expansive belly and blubbers, “I don’t want Uncle Pot-Pot to die.”
Comforting her, “Oh, don’t worry sweetie Unc. What did you call him?” He lifts her upright.
“Uncle Pot-Pot,” she says wiping the tears from her eyes, “that’s what he told me to call him.”
Ten eyes stare at me. “I thought Uncle Track Marks was too much,” a dish breaks in the kitchen as I finish. I laugh. Things shattering always made me laugh.
Larry, my mother’s current husband found some rage at the bottom of his bottle, “You, you think this is a fucking joke, do you? Well, laugh your ass out of my house and into a fucken, you know. The get sober pl. Rehab! Take your ass to rehab.” Some saliva mists his legs as he finishes his rant.
“That’s a good one. I’ll go when you go. But wait you don’t need rehab, do you? No, No. Larry. King Larry! Sits in his castles steamed to high heaven 24/7. And I’m the one with a problem. I fucked up once. I tried some shit I shouldn’t have and almost OD’ed. And guess what! I won’t be doing that shit again. Boom there we go.”
Some reality ditz on TV spews nonsense over the tense silence. Larry closes his throne. Rocking to gain momentum enough to carry him off the cushion he mutters to himself the ass whooping he is about to deliver. Mom steps in the room and stops Larry’s progress with a touch. Her loving gaze meets my feral rage.
“Larry is old and all but useless,” she says standing at his side. “You, my son, my baby, you are young and have your whole life to be witty and pissed off. But, this was your ninth OD. The doctor says you won’t survive the next one. You can’t be witty if you kill yourself. Your choice is simple, go with people from Serenity to rehab when they get here, or leave and take your chances on the streets, end up whoring again, and likely die before the end of the week.” She was serious. The day my father was caught cheating and stopped existing, she was less intense. “The rest of us are going to the movies. They’ll be here for you in an hour. Go with them or don’t. But, do not be here when we return. Everyone, up. Give Jared a hug and get into the van we’re already late.”
She finishes standing in front of me. I stand. I could not think of anything to say. She hugs me tight and says, “Go with them, and come back a son I can be proud of.” We separate and she heads straight for out of the front door.
I stand there, processing as I become the nucleus of my atomic family’s group hug. They squeeze, their comments go unheard. I smile and nod. They shuffle out.
I weigh my options.
There is a knock at the door. Can she ever be proud of me?