Wayne and I made our way to the cafeteria, grabbed up (and paid for) pieces of pie, Cokes and then headed to an out of the way table, sat and began chowing.
I noticed that June was eating with a man in a white hospital jacket. She looked up from her meal, smiled and waved. I waved back. She smiled, said something to the man, got up and walked over.
“If you want to join us please do.” I said kindly.
Wayne moved his tray next to the wall and changed seats so that she could sit with us if she chose to.
“Thank you boys. Did you guys come to see Derrick?”
‘Yes ma’am.” I replied feeling privileged that she would choose to sit with two miscreants of the highest caliber.
“That’s not so healthy, you know.” June said with a gleam in her eyes.
“Yes ma’am.” Wayne said somewhat apologetically… yet we continued to devour the pie. Wayne had chosen double chocolate and I chose banana.
“We’ll be eating when we get home, ma’am.” I said seriously. At least I hoped we’d get to eat something of substance but then looked at the clock. It was after 6pm. I knew that we’d miss dinner but hoped that Ma would leave leftovers.
We gave our progress report for her son. She said she was headed upstairs to spring him from the hospital because he was doing so well.
She thanked us for saving his life although she never wanted us to bring guns or other weapons to her home on our visits. I found it a bit odd that she’d want us to come back after all that she’d seen and experienced with our first visit.
June then told us that Sherry was in the hospital on the psychiatric floor for evaluation, and that she was on suicide watch meaning that someone was in her room at all times day and night.
In short order the pie was devoured and the glasses of Coke drained.
I asked her if it would be okay if I came to visit the next day… she invited us for dinner but Wayne had to decline as he had a doctor’s appointment to keep later in the day.
With that said we caught the CTA and headed to the south side where we lived, worked and played.
On the way home we stopped at Vito’s where we purchased enough shit to last all night. I really didn’t want to go home. I called Nathan. He said all was quiet, that Christopher was acting differently in a better way… at least he’d been trying, he thought.
He put Ma on the phone. She fully supported Nathan’s account. I told her that we were going to the park to shoot some hoops, that I’d be spending the night at Wayne’s, and that I’d be home the following morning.
Since things were calmer on the home front she approved though she wanted me home earlier rather than later. I said I would even though I wasn’t sure that we’d be up any time before 3-4pm.
Millie had dinner ready to heat up. She had the sneaky feeling that we’d be home sooner or later, and that we’d be hungry as only two teenage boys could be.
I was already mellow for the most part but when Millie brought out The Medicine and a small paper bag filled with shit… and don’t forget to add what we’d bought … well the party was on.
For about two minutes I contemplated on getting started knowing that in the mood I was in then there would be no stopping the train until it ran out of fuel, or crashed into that wall doing ninety-eight.
I was at a cross roads yet I wasn’t.
After doing a line and drinking plenty of The Medicine I no longer gave a fuck. That’s where I wanted to be… I wanted to not give a fuck about anything … I just wanted to let my hair down and let whatever was supposed to happen: happen.
At about 9:30, fucked up out of my gourd I came up just long enough to see Millie passed out in her chair. I vaguely remember Wayne deep inside of me pounding away using his fully extended prong.
In a dazed haze I reached down and felt my dick… it was slick, gooey smelled rotten. The bottle was sitting on the coffee table. I took a big long slug, and then grabbed my ankles and then passed out before Wayne experienced his moment of no return.
The next time I came to was after 1am… their silly fucking coo-coo clock had loudly chimed… it all sounded so ethereal, distant and detached. I then realized that I was deeply embedded into Wayne… he was passed out. My body shuddered violently yet I was more or less detached from it, from my body, weird, but I rode along for the duration, and then collapsed. I cannot even recall blowing. All I remember is rolling off of Wayne and landing hard on the bare wood floor face first and my head hitting the coffee table leg. The last thing I remember was finishing off that bottle of Medicine.
The following morning I awoke still scrunched up into a fetal ball on the floor. The smell in the place stunk to high heavens. I reached up to brush the hair out of my face and found it matted down to my skull and face. Some of it was dry. Some of it was wet. Some of it was running down into my ears.
I turned my head just enough to see Wayne’s arm draped across the sofa, hanging down. I grasped his hand thinking that he might be dead. A surge of relief washed over me when I found it to be warm and limp just like I felt.
“Fuck” was the only intelligent word that fell from my thick and largely unmoving lips.
I heard very loud snoring in the background. I tried to look up but my hair pulled, like it was glued to the floor.
It wasn’t morning yet… or was it?
Whatever time it was made no difference. Once again I passed out oblivious to all people, places and things. I didn’t even care about the position I was in or the condition I was in.
Sometime later, I couldn’t tell you when I came too. I was in a bathtub with hot water swirling all around me. I debated on opening my eyes… I decided not to for fear of getting soap in my eyes… someone was washing my long dirty blond hair with vigor. Whoever it was then turned on the bathtub spigot and began rinsing my hair after they lifted my neck up and out of the bathwater.
“Are ya waking up boy?” The voice belonged to mom.
“Are you awake yet boy? I ain’t washed my baby son’s body since you were 4 years old… do you realize that?” She said desperately.
“Ma, don’t.” I said gurgling out those two words. I was still definitely fucked up. I opened my eyes when she moved down, using a soft wash cloth, to clean my face, the front of my neck, chest, arms and fingers.
She then rinsed my face causing me to nearly choke. All that came out of my thick and swollen mouth were sputters and croaks. Quickly she wiped my face dry with a dry towel or something.
“Open your eyes boy.”
I tried. I got them open no further than a squint as a wave of nausea washed over and then passed … there was to be no open eyes, not forever, so it seemed.
I didn’t even care that I was hard beyond hard. She started washing my legs from the toes toward my torso. She wasn’t being too kind yet her ministrations felt nice. Like she’d told me she hadn’t washed my body since I was a very little kid, back when things were okay, when our life was on track, and when our family was happy and serene.
Without hesitation, without resistance, without modesty or anything else the washrag went between my legs where they join high up the food chain. I didn’t even flinch when she passed across and stayed with my crack. I was totally open. For a moment I hoped that my stomach contents were already relieved… but I didn’t care.
I dazed out again… when I came to, when I came back to this world she was running a fresh bathtub of water.
The room smelled of stomach contents.
She started over.
I didn’t care.
“Ma, I want to die. Just leave me be.”
“I know baby. You just about succeeded too. I’m going to get you help. You can’t go on this way. I don’t want to bury you, child. It ain’t right.”
With that said I relaxed and let her do her thing. Her touch, while firm, was filled with love for her son. I was her son. She was my Ma.
A slight sliver of hope flowered open. I tried to open my eyes so that I could see her. I was able to keep them open for a moment no longer but I saw her washing my legs and then saw her reach into my nether regions one more time. I pinched myself closed.
I wasn’t even ashamed that my very erect and pulsating penis was no more than 3 inches from her hand.
My arms were lead weights as I felt her hands traveling with the wash cloth washing my chest, abdomen, and the sides of my privates. I went to lift my head but a wave of nausea passed on by without damage. When she started washing my bush I felt her brush by my hyper-extended cock but she didn’t linger. She washed around the main event just like she’d done for the rest of my body. I attempted to lift my arms… I was going to take over… a modicum of modesty began to creep from deep within… but my arms were too heavy to do anything meaningful.
She said, “Just relax. I’m just about done child.”
“Ma, I’m going to…”
Then it happened. The second the washcloth began its travels to my usually personal and private place of pleasure I felt the spasm begin… Ma lifted her hand but the washcloth remained… my body actually felt alive as the spasm hit its peak though the spasm was only about 20% powered.
“I’m sorry Ma.”
I heard sniffles. In a broken voice Ma said, “You’re a growing boy. I’m sorry I have to do this.”
“Me too, I’m sorry that I embarrassed you.”
“Mind me none child. Things have to change though. You’ll see. I’ll get you all the help you need.”
We then sorta kinda worked together… I rolled over so that she would wash my back. When that was accomplished she rolled me back and moved the water around so that I’d get rinsed.
“Where am I?”
“You’re at Miss Millie’s but I’m taking you home from here. This is no good for you. It’s one thing that’s going to change. I’ll not have my baby dying away from home or in a hospital. I have the notion to shoot her, boy.”
“No Ma, you can’t do that. I got the stuff momma.” I said. Suddenly my eyes opened about halfway.
“I know about the Medicine, boy. Don’t you dare think I ain’t had any of it. When I saw you this morning, boy, I thought about going where you went but that wouldn’t be right. And it ain’t right for you to go away from me. Now hush. I’ll dry you. I’ll get you dressed. Then we’re going home. You’ll see child. Can you sit up for me?”
Surprisingly I felt so much better. Ma helped me to turn around in the bathtub so that I was facing the faucets instead of lying beneath them.
I turned to Ma’s face and opened my eyes. She’d been crying… they were all red and puffy. I’d hurt my Ma… and I cared. “I’m sorry Ma.”
“I know son. I know. This is stronger than you are… I didn’t see it.” Ma croaked between clenched teeth.
Shuddering seriously, I croaked, “Ma, I love you. I’ll try to be a better son… I promise.”
“I know you will baby. Now, let’s get you out of this tub. I’ve got clean clothes for you. I just washed them up yesterday. They smell so fresh and clean.”
I was able to get out of the tub using my own power yet she’d have no part of me drying any part of my body. Almost delicately she dried and fluffed my hair and inspected it for cleanliness. She knew I was very anal about my hair… yet I’d thought seriously of having it all cut off… but I hadn’t made the decision or done anything about it. I said, “Ma, I’m going to get it cut off.”
“Rest child. Rome wasn’t built in one day.”
My stomach was rumbling… I thought I was just hungry though I didn’t particularly feel that way. Ma insisted that I sit on the toilet until the gas passed on through.
“I’m going to go get your clothes. You have no reason to run around naked like an Indian in this house. This ain’t your house no matter how much you like Wayne, boy. I won’t have you running around like that in people’s houses.”
The old Ma was shining through… like she had before ‘that day’. Something inside told me to not argue with her.
No sooner than she walked out… I violently exploded the toilet with air, water and other things until it stopped. I was beginning to get that ‘relieved’ feeling when Ma entered the bathroom carrying clean clothes. She sat them on the sink then turned and tore off a long piece of toilet paper and then waited expectantly… the look on her face said ‘do not argue with me’.
But argue I did. To no avail.
She said, “Now boy, you show your ass to all kinds of different people… don’t sass me none. Your ass is bare and it’s mine; I gave birth to ya boy and I changed your diapers. You might be 13 but you’re acting like a damn fool. I won’t have no damn fool for a youngster… you’ve got promise, boy.”
Ma waited patiently, toilet paper in hand, as the last few squirts exited. My butt was red hot raw sore from that hot liquid, and more than likely from nearly consistent and constant interactions with Wayne’s spear, no doubt.
I leaned forward. “You’re bleeding there, boy… I’m gonna get you the help you need before you get something that won’t go away.”
I jerked her hand back out of the way just as another torrent of hot molten lava spewed from the back door. She said, “Oh son … what am I going to do with you?”
She tore off another piece, took care of my business despite my mild protests then she applied lots of cold cream to those tender and bruised tissues down south. I was about halfway boned up. I knew there was no use arguing with her. In a way, I appreciated her care and concern … it had been a long time since I’d felt or experienced her love … maybe she’d tried but I had no doubt pushed her away.
She washed and dried her hands then knelt down and guided on a pair of those black skimpy bikini underwear over my feet and up my legs. I stood up from the toilet and turned around and flushed. Her hair brushed my male member on the way up my legs. I put my organ inside the skimpy piece of material and made some adjustments so that its head was covered.
Ma giggled, “Those don’t leave much for the imagination. I didn’t realize you were filling out…”
“Ah mom, please!” I said then reached for my jeans which I quickly put on.
Ma chuckled, “Well, it’s true. You’re filling out like your daddy.”
I tensed up.
Ma said, “I’m sorry Joey … I’ve got a lot to learn.”
“Ma, we’ll learn. Okay… I’ll go to a headbanger on one condition. I mean I won’t fight you none…” Without waiting for her to admonish my making rules I said, “Ma, we all need to go. Nathan’s hurting too. And well… we already know about Christopher.”
Ma replied, “You know… that’s the most intelligent thing you’ve said all morning. Joey, Wayne tells me that you and he made some decent friends for a change. He said you guys promised to go visit that friend in the hospital… tell me about him.”
I left the sex stuff out… and well, I omitted the deal when his ex-girlfriend pulled the knife… and well I left out the getting fucked up… and well I left out the Reinforcer… disclosing that kind of stuff wouldn’t help the situation any.
“He sounds decent enough. Now, I want his momma and daddy’s phone number because I want to talk to them. It’s my job, boy, don’t sass me none. Maybe I’d like to meet them. Do you think I’d like them, boy?”
“Yeah, they’re pretty strict… but they’re cool like you are, Ma.”
“Flattery will get ya nowhere. Well, okay you scored some brownie points <giggle>. You and Wayne, you go up there. Be home by 7pm. I’ll bust your cute butt with the razor strap if you’re one second late… do you understand me?”
I grinned. Mom got that ‘oh no’ look on her face. “Does that mean we can be 10 minutes late?”
That earned me a hard swat on the butt then I added insult to injury, “Ma, we don’t have a razor strap… but yeah okay I hear you loud and clear. No doubt you still have dad’s belt hanging in the closet.”
“That I do, boy. That I do.”
She let me help her with getting dressed… but then she turned me around and around to make sure I was ‘just right’ and ‘respectable’. She then brushed my hair at least a thousand times to get the tangles out. “You might have an idea about getting your hair cut off. You know there is a charity…”
“Yeah… that’s what I’m going to do. Maybe some kid can use it more than I need it.”
“That’s my boy. I’m proud of your insides though your outsides have left much to be desired. Now… remember… 7pm. No later. Not a second later. I’ll make the appointments tomorrow… we got to start somewhere, boy. Do you need money for a cab? I noticed your pants boy… you’ll not be carrying no heat around with you because you ain’t going to be in those places no more, right boy? Right? Right?”
“Okay mom. But if the bills…”
“No… You let me handle that. I’m the parent. You’re the child. It’s my responsibility to make sure your stomach is filled. Look at you. You’re so thin.” Ma said, at the same time putting her one hand on my back and the other hand on my stomach.
Just then Nathan entered the bathroom. He took one look at me. He smiled, “Who are you?”
I pulled Ma into a hug then at the same time flipped him the bird. He opened his mouth and began pushing his tongue in and out, like he was licking something… like a penis. I closed my bird with an inner commitment to find out what the fuck he meant by that. I’d kept him safe and out of the trade…
Ma and I released. She checked me over one more time. She appeared to be satisfied with my appearance and change in attitude. My Ma was back. I never used to want to disappoint her or dad. I was a good straight-A student. I was in Scouts. I played little league baseball and soccer. All the usual kid stuff… then I grew up wild and wooly when … when it happened.
When I entered the living room, Millie was sitting at the kitchen table. Wayne was sitting on the sofa cleaning up messes on the bare wood floor. He looked up. He took a double take. He smiled then returned to his tasks. Ma brought me a brush and a rag from the kitchen… “You take over. Wayne needs his bath. Come on Millie.”
An hour later a one Wayne exited the bathroom. He was spiffy and damn he smelled good, like fresh soap and water, with a hint of apple wood about his being.
Immediately I boned up. I’d never known him to smell so good. I took a quick glance down south of the belt buckle… those underwear Nathan gave me… were kewl.
Speaking of Nathan… He stood next to me; he, my little brother had pools and gallons of tears yet unshed behind those two orbs of flesh that gave him sight. If for no other reason I was going to change my ways – for him. I needed a moment of privacy with him sooner rather than later. I pulled him into the bathroom, closed the door and locked it.
He was silent.
He was never silent.
I said, “Nathan, things are going to change. Ma’s going to be a Ma. We’ve got to get some help. I’m out of control brother. You have so much hurt in you.”
“No I don’t. If there’s any hurt inside of me it’s because you put it there. When you start being a big brother then I’ll be okay. I mean it, Joey. You’re changing just like Christopher changed. I don’t like you. I love you because you’re my brother. Period.”
That did it.
I lost my composure.
Those words he said were the last ones I ever wanted to hear from him.
He was right though. I hadn’t been around, and when I was there I was mostly ‘not there’ because I was fucked up, angry, both, neither.
I reached my arms out. He didn’t move so I went to him. He resisted me strongly as I put my arms around his thin shoulders. But he wanted his big brother back. Just as Ma had done to me I didn’t say a word… instead I pulled him in and forced his arms around my chest, and then I held him tight as stinging tears freely flew out of my eyes and into his hair.
And then the damage occurred… I started bawling my eyes out. The sobs came and came and came some more… they were uncontrollable… they would not stop not that I was trying to make them stop for once.
The knocks on the door didn’t sway us one second. We were experiencing our moment of healing. Nathan, holding back, finally gave into some of his hidden away emotions… he had been being just like me… holding them in… afraid of them… I hadn’t been there to lead him through them… I hadn’t been there to set examples for him, to tell him that it’s okay… I would later learn that it really wasn’t my fault because I was locked into my own prison… I would later learn that Ma wasn’t at fault because she was locked into her own prison.
“Nathan, do you have some more behind there?” I asked while putting my hands on either side of his face, rubbing his temples tenderly. Without saying a word he nestled his head into my chest. My shirt felt wet but he wasn’t sobbing any longer.
When he lifted up his face to look into my eyes I said, “I love you little brother. I love you more than life itself. I was just trying to do the right thing… but I guess I fucked up, eh?”
“No, you didn’t fuck up. I don’t think I was a good little brother either. So… we’re pretty much even. Joey… please promise me that you won’t go away again… not like that.”
“I’ll try Nathan. Give me some fuck up room, okay… we’ve gotta come back from hell. Ma’s going to get us some help with a headbanger. Knowing me though, I’ll need a whole fucking team of them.”
Nathan put his face back into my chest. He inhaled deeply. His shoulders dropped… like he was relaxing… I had done the same thing… only I hadn’t realized it. I questioned whether I should say anything to him about it… I decided not to… in case he was unaware. He’d become aware in his own time frame.
Then I did something I never recalled doing to Nathan or any of my other brothers for that matter. I gently took his face into my hands, looked into his eyes, I mean I penetrated into his being. I said, “I love you. You’re a good brother. Don’t let me or anyone else tell you no different.” Nathan’s eyes misted over. He then softly closed them. I then kissed his lips tenderly but quickly.
Then we were back to real brothers because he growled, wrapped his arms around my midsection and squeezed for all he was worth.
“You’re a good brother to me Joey. Just don’t forget this, okay?”
“Joey, one more thing… I thought you were dead this morning. You were covered in vomit and shit. Mom had to wet your hair because you were stuck to the floor. Please, don’t ever make me see you like that again. Don’t do that to mom again. Promise me Joey.” Nathan said with every ounce of strength in his body… no he wasn’t loud… no he wasn’t mean or anything sinister like that… he was speaking to me with his heart and soul.
I nodded. Even though I couldn’t put words to what I wanted to say, and I still can’t come up with the right words to say what I wanted to say… he read me and knew that I’d at least try.
He then kissed my lips. We were together… just him and I… we knew it would be okay right then.
Wayne entered the bathroom after I unlocked the door. Ma was sitting with Millie in the kitchen. They both looked at us with an intensity I’ll never forget. Nathan said it all, “My brother’s back.”
Our visit with Derrick was pretty short… no more than 30 minutes… but then again we hadn’t arrived until 4:45 or so. I’d made promises to Ma and Nathan that I’d be home by 7pm. I promised myself that I would be home on time. I’d made a commitment. Dad had always told me that a man’s word, no matter what, had to be good.
On our way out we ran into June. She was on her way to pick up her son who had been discharged from the hospital albeit wired jaws that were aching pretty badly.
We got on the CTA by the hospital at 6:20. It was a 15 minute train ride to the closest station to our homes.
Ma called me as we made our way out of the station. I told her where I was, that we’d arrive soon, and would be on time. She suggested that Wayne stay home because Christopher was crazy that day. When she arrived home he was lying on the sofa constantly and consistently verbally repeating Biblical passages about the ails of the world, our family, and everything that America stood for.
I told Wayne what was going down… he had no problem with being with me. I told Ma, or asked her if Wayne could come home… she said okay so long as he understood that things might get crazier when both he and I showed up.
He called Millie, asked for permission, and told her of Christopher’s craziness. She agreed with his logic. I called Ma back. The line was busy. No doubt they were talking.
We arrived at the station at 6:40. The walk from the station usually took 15 minutes unless the snow was butt deep to a Totem pole.
At 6:57 I opened the back door to the kitchen. Wayne entered and then shut the door behind us.
Ma walked into the kitchen. She was upset. She was more upset than I’d ever seen her. I said, “Christopher?”
She cupped my cheeks in her hands… “Baby he’s batshit crazy. Nathan’s up in his room. Joey, Christopher…”
Christopher rose up and then spewed, “Is that filthy pig faggot spawn of SATAN with his faggot boy-fucking-friend-spawn of Satan home? Do tell them to come on in, that I’ve got a present for him.”
Out of the corner of my eye I saw my 45 sitting on top of the refrigerator but paid it no mind… yet I did. I whispered quietly to mom and Wayne, “You guys stay here.”
“Joey, he hurt Nathan. Nathan’s in his room with the door locked. I’m going to call the law… I have to turn my own son in… God, I don’t want to but I have to.” Mom said with tears welling up in her eyes.
“Yeah mom, call the law. See how fast they get here. I’m sure they’ll just drop their donuts for a call down here in the projects. Here’s my phone. Knock yourself out.” I said sarcastically. That was the wrong thing to say. “Ma, I’m sorry. I love you. I’m scared of him mom … I’ll try to talk to him.”
I pulled mom into a quick but deep, deep hug and kissed her cheek. I released her. At the same time I batted away a tear that was threatening to escape from my right eye.
As soon as I released mom I took in a deep breath, shuddered and then exhaled. I looked to the refrigerator… The Reinforcer was calling me. It was saying, “You’ll need me.”
Wayne asked Ma, “How bad is Nathan?”
Ma looked to me, “It’s bad. The poor boy. Don’t do nothing stupid, my son. Let me have your phone.”
I gave it to her.
I then looked to Wayne. He nodded.