In a somewhat roundabout way, I will always come to the theory that my life is this unnaturally perilous and series of unfortunate events. Sure things were rough at fourteen, but what about ten?
I do remember that day when I was ten, that one day in particular, April nineteenth.
I was walking down the hallway of the house that I so frequently tried to escape, I was almost done with fifth grade and had so much else to do. It may have actually have been easy for me to continue onwards, I had inspiration, ambition and a sudden desire to play music for life; but there was Janice. That awful, loathsome bitch that waltzed into my life wearing soccer cleats coated in blood and misery.
Walking down that hallway I had my bag on my back and this wonderful acoustic Gibson with a mahogany finish that my father splurged to buy me for Christmas slung over my shoulder. I could play almost anything I heard and repeat it, on top of that I could sing too, on some days Craig and I would go out on the sidewalks and peddle cash from people, and if we had enough we’d go buy lunch or treat ourselves to a movie. But as I turned into my room I heard a door close behind me and then her voice.
“So, Joseph,” she said oh so sweetly (oh so fakely), “How was your day sweetheart?”
Mostly because I despised her I shrugged, but when my dad came out behind her I realized why she wasn’t her usual horrid self and I responded almost as falsely, “Oh, my day was just fan-frickin-tastic.”
“That’s my boy!” my father chimed in, his oblivious nature completely evident, “Now, I’m off to work, both of you get along; alright? Dinner shouldn’t be an issue.”
And with that he walked over to me and gave me a huge hug and a pat on the shoulder. With his back turned to her I could see Janice’s eyes burning a hypothetical hole right through my skull. When he turned back and gave her a kiss she returned to this façade I’d come to know. It was like she had two separate persons crammed into her body, she had Janice who was this average woman with my father as a husband, and then there was something else I had no name for that had an undying, inexplicable hatred towards me and all that I was. And anytime my father was around she wore the Janice mask like it was her entire life. So the second my father went towards the door I walked into my room and slammed mine. Tossing my bag and guitar onto my bed I fell on my floor and lay there, looking at some of the posters on my ceiling; I had Nirvana, Green day, Blink 182 and many others. They were my inspiration, I had no need for television despite myself having one, music was my savior.
There was a knock, and I stood up slowly, knowing who it was; but deciding to be a cocky, sarcastic wise ass said in a mockingly high-pitched voice, “Who is it?”
For a ten year old I was well versed in vulgarities, sarcasm and adult humour, also had a significantly early grasp on puberty which made me its bitch for all of an awkward fifth grade.
Janice responded through the door far more seriously, “You know exactly who it is asshole, get out here.”
As tempting as it was for me to stay in my room that day I had more common sense than to do that when this woman could very easily make my life far worse than it already was. So I walked out sluggishy and looked her right in the eyes, we both stood at the same height of five foot six.
“So, dad went out? What should we do?” she smiled a little creepily.
Had I known the meaning of Pedophile at the time I may have said, ‘I need an adult’. But I didn’t, so hence my response was, “Let me play guitar?”
She did this thing she always did when she thought my answers were stupid where she shook her head a little and laughed and said, “no no no, we’re not going to sit idly and accomplish nothing.”
And that usually meant that she had some completely obscene cleaning task for me to accomplish, or I had to clean the whole house, or maybe both. But today was different, she did her ‘you’re stupid’ thing, the task was different.
Janice stopped for a moment and then inquired(she doesn’t ask, never, so… Yea…), “Joseph, could you get me some tomato sauce and spaghetti from the basement? I was thinking of doing Italian for dinner.”
‘What the fuck?’ was exactly what I was thinking at this very moment, but my response was, “Sure.”
So as nonchalant as I could I shuffled over to the basement door, opened it, lazily tugged a string and the lights flickered on, and I crawled down the stairs. I reached the bottom and I heard a click behind me, the door was closed and locked, but there was also another noise; far more worrying. I heard panting. Heavy panting somewhere in this semi-lit basement.
I immediately ran to the top of the stairs pounding on the door as hard as I could, screaming, “Janice! What the fuck?! Let me out! Let me out! Goddammit!”
At the bottom of the stairs I heard growling, like something that came from a large dog, and that’s exactly what it was. Janice had locked me in a room with a mastiff, this big, black dog that looked feral and malnourished.
I stepped cautiously down the stairs, reaching for something heavy and found a jar of tomato sauce, then I made the mistake of throwing it at this dog that probably weighed more than my one hundred and twenty pound self.
I was in that basement for three hours until I finally managed to kill the goddman thing by dropping a dryer on it. But at the cost of too much blood, several gashes, all too many bite marks and a mental scarring that years of therapy couldn’t repair.
How Janice got away with this I’m not sure but she did, and as the ambulance pulled up to the house and I was taken away by the EMT’s I could see Janice in my father’s arms glaring at me, resenting my survival.
Oh, I wasn’t done kicking, I was far from done. Janice was pure evil, if I hated anything more than my addictions, it was her; hands down.