So the weekend came and went. Time well spent with Ollie and his friends, who in turn became mine as well. Weekend after weekend it was the same thing; stealing our parents’ prescription drugs, swapping and mixing them to see who got the best high, while drunk as fuck the entire time. The fun soon evolved from various prescriptions like Oxycontin and Xanax to street drugs like acid, shrooms, and coke; all steadily provided by Emmett, Ollie’s cousin who lived on the other side of town.
At first I was the “virgin” user of the group. I’d never even smoked weed before I met Ollie, so the little orange bottles in my mom’s medicine cabinet never held much interest for me. But soon, they became my life. I lived for the times when both my parents were out of the house. Whether they were shopping, fixing the car, or just fucking pulling weeds in the garden, I had my empty-house radar on constantly. As soon as I was sure no one would be there to find me I’d steal into their bathroom cabinet and take as many Percocets as possible without it being too obvious that I was nabbing a few.
I thought I had been doing a pretty good job of keeping it discreet. I prided myself in being able to take right from under their noses for so long. I didn’t even use them as soon as I got them. I had myself a little collection going in the corner of my underwear drawer. The collection at its best consisted of 6 Percocets, 4 Xanax, 3 Hydrocodon, a dime bag of coke, half an eightball of crack (we got pretty hardcore for a while), and two ounces of shrooms. Instead of Emmett, I soon became the guy you would come to if you needed some discreet fun for the upcoming weekend. It got bad for a while, though. The fun that was solely reserved for the weekend soon began to leak and spread into the weekday.
While I don’t think that Sid ever actually saw my stash, I’m pretty sure he knew what was going on. I stopped sleeping. He would watch me from his side of the room as I paced back and forth scheming up plans for the next “get together” with Ollie and everyone else; wondering what I would bring, how I would get it, and what I would take it with. And while I’m sure that from Sid’s point of view I was slowly going crazy, I was having the time of my life. School still sucked, but not nearly as much when I was trippin’ my balls off on shrooms. I got sent home from class at least 5 times in two months, but never went home so my parents never found out. They just thought that I’d finally found a group of people I could relate to and never really interfered.
In reality this would have been a wet dream for a fast-forming junkie, but to tell you the truth… it made me hate them even more. The big screaming message I got from them not interfering was “WE DON’T GIVE TWO SHITS ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS TO YOU, SKELLY”. The only time they ever gave me hell about anything was the day I came back from Ollie’s with spiked, blood red hair. While everyone else was having dinner, I waltzed into the kitchen like nothing had changed. My mother was horrified, Sid’s jaw nearly hit the table, and my dad’s face turned just about as red as my hair. I was sentenced to the living room where my parents soon cornered me. To make a long argument short, all they did was yell about how embarrassing I was to the family and how until I was 18 my hair was still their hair and they didn’t want it red. Well, they could yell until they went fucking hoarse. I wasn’t going to change it. I liked the way I looked and actually felt like I fit in around Ollie and all the other guys. At least I didn’t have sleeve tattoos like Emmett. (I’m proud to say I completed those a couple years later). So in the end, the hair stayed. Much to my parent’s dismay and horror. I think they just learned to tune it out by ignoring me completely.
So with all the attention directed at Sid and his amazing accomplishments on the soccer field and in the classroom, I got a little careless with where I put my ‘goods’ and how many I was taking from the ever-present Percocet bottle downstairs. Needless to say it didn’t take much longer for my mom to figure out she wasn’t the only one reaping the benefits of the almighty little orange bottle. I remember it was Wednesday afternoon. I had skipped school that day and gone out to a local dealer’s house with Ollie to see how much processed weed 35 bucks would get us. I made sure I was home by 3:45 that afternoon so that no suspicions would arise as to whether I was in school that day or not.
By the time I walked through the front door Sid was already camped out on the living room couch watching Springer (something he quickly changed to Jeopardy every time Mom would round the corner). I put down my backpack and headed towards the kitchen. Halfway there I heard my dad shout out my name from upstairs. What the hell was he doing up there? I ran up the steps taking two at a time until I found him. He was standing in the middle of mine and Sid’s room. All of the lights were off except for the automatic night light plugged into the hallway outlet. It cast just enough light for me to see the outline of my father’s tall frame… and of my mother’s hunched over and sobbing into her hands on the edge of my bed.
My dad rumbled, “Come here, Skelton” in a menacing whisper that made my stomach retract into an undoable knot. I tentatively took four steps forward until, I too, was engulfed in the dark depth of the room. Mom’s sobbing subsided into small, muffled cries. My father suddenly thrust his open palm inches in front of my face. The palm contained all of the recent Percocets I had janked and my dime-bag of weed. “Just what the hell is this? What the fuck have you been doing behind our backs here in our own house?”
I stared stupidly into the face of his palm, not knowing what to say or how to explain myself. I wasn’t prepared for this. In my head this would never happen, I was too careful to get caught. But here we were. My father huffing and puffing louder and louder with each passing second that I kept my mouth shut. I felt safer just keeping silent. There was really no way to put it so that the situation sounded better. So I just closed my eyes and let out a long, slow breath. “ANSWER ME GODDAMN IT!!” my father boomed.
I heard the volume on the TV downstairs fade away as Sid tuned into what was happening upstairs. As angry as my father was getting, I still couldn’t find the words to make the situation any better. So all I did was cross my arms and stare at the empty wall behind my mother.
“This is the last straw, boy. Your mother and I have tolerated your foolishness and put up with your shit for the last time. You’re gonna clean up your act, dump those useless bastards you call friends, and get your life on track.”
I slowly cracked my knuckles and licked my bottom lip. At that very moment all I wanted was one of the freshly rolled blunts still nestled in the back pocket of my book bag. My eyes stayed fixed on the wall. My father spoke up again. “Did you hear me, Skelton? No more of this crap. You stay away from Ollie. I have a feeling he’s gotten you into this. If I hear of you hanging around him again, you’ll have hell to pay. You got that?”
My gaze shifted to the shadows playing on my father’s features. Me mother’s quiet sobs started up again to fill the empty silence enveloping the room. In between sobs she managed to squeeze in a few teary words, “How… how could you? How could you let us down like this?” She buried her face back into her hands and didn’t say anything else.
My father took a step forward. He was now close enough for me to smell stale clove on his breath. “I don’t want this crap in my house. You might be okay with turning your own life to shit, but so help me god, I’ll kill you if you take Sid down with you.”
His last statement took my breath away. What I originally thought was an attempt to help me get things straightened out for my own good was actually a ploy to keep Sid out of harm’s way. I couldn’t believe it. With everything that was happening they still found a way to turn this around to Sid and his well-being.
“So that’s it, huh?” I snapped. “All of this is about me being a bad influence on good-boy Sid? I can’t fucking believe you two! I…”
My father cut me off. “Don’t you dare speak like that in front of your mother.”
I quickly retorted with, “Why? You do.”
“Don’t talk back to me like that, boy.”
“Don’t call me boy!!”
“I’ll call you whatever I damn well please, boy.”
I didn’t even realize just how angry I was until he spat out the last few words. I suddenly found myself in a rage I didn’t know I was capable of. I slammed my fist down on the nightstand beside my bed and flung my arm across it. A lamp, two picture frames, and a glass of orange juice found themselves flying across the room and hurled onto the floor. “DON’T GIVE ME THAT SHIT, DAD! Why does everything have to be about your other son?”
My mother stood up sometime in the past minute and was now gawking at me with her mouth wide open. I found myself wanting to walk over to her and punch it shut. I felt so much anger it was scaring me.
My dad took yet another step closer so that our chests were now almost touching. “Pick it up”, he growled, motioning over to the fallen lamp. I clenched and unclenched my fists, staring him in the eye all the while. The room was dead silent. The air was so still that I could hear Sid breathing heavily at the end of the stairs, listening for what was going to happen next. I stared my dad down for a full minute. I could see eye to eye with him perfectly. Both he and I, Sid included, all stand at 6 foot. But my dad outweighs Sid and I by at least 30 pounds. We’re only 145 lbs.
“Pick… it… up”
I’d had enough, I just couldn’t take this shit anymore. “No, FUCK you, Dad. I’m the one who’s been putting up with the shit, and now I’m tired of it. Fuck you, fuck mom, fuck your precious son Sid. Nothing I ever do will be good enough for you. So what can I say? I got tired of trying. I’m sick of this family and I’m really fucking sick of YOU.”
Just when I thought I’d gone too far and fully expected my father to erupt at any second…he slowly exhaled and cleared his throat. “Get out.”
I wasn’t even sure that he’d finished clearing his throat and had actually said something, but he said it again. “Get out, Skelly. You can come back when you want to be a member of this family and not just a menace.” His eyes narrowed and became fine slits. With lips curled back, nostrils flaring this time he practically barked, “GET OUT.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing but wasn’t going to wait around for more. I stole a quick glance at mom to see what her reaction was, but she was too much of a coward to do anything but hide her face behind her hands yet again and start all over with the sobbing. I flung myself around and made my way to the door.
At some point in time Sid had come all the way up the stairs and was lounging in the doorway. He quickly moved to the side so I could get through. I stopped next to him just long enough to slam my fist into the wall next to his head and say, “I hope you’re fucking happy. Keep up with the perfection, and god help you if you ever fall from the pedestal they have you on.”
No reaction. Nothing. Sid was nothing but a wet blanket and all I felt was disgust for him. I thundered down the stairs for the last time and grabbed nothing but my backpack by the door. I walked out the front door and slammed it as hard as I could, trying to convey all the hate I had in my heart for them in a quick, simple motion. I had no idea that it would be over five years before I would enter that house or see my family again. Or that the next time I did, it would be a homecoming experienced from the padded seat of a wheelchair pushed by my father himself.
To be continued...