I stumbled into my room. A bolt of lightening crashed across my window the moment I stepped inside. Twice I tripped on my way to the far corner. A part of me wanted to stay in the hallway; a part of me didn’t want to know.
But my feet continued to move forward. At last, I stopped, my wet hair dripping onto my face as I stared at the corner.
The bare corner.
It seemed so empty. The carpet was still dented from where the record player had set: my record player. I felt my throat clench at the phrase. I looked around the room frantically, as though expecting to find it on my bed or in my closet.
I stretched my arms, as though the record player was still there, and I was going to scoop it into a giant hug. I fell backward, sitting on the large metal case where I kept my stories.
It was gone. Virgil had taken it. It was gone.
The sentence seemed foreign in my mind. It didn’t make sense. It was like… like hearing about a car accident. It was the type of thing you saw on the news; it didn’t happen to you.
I stood, holding my hands before me. And then I remembered: Virgil. I’d told him not take it. I’d told him that it was all I had.
And he’d taken it.
I turned sharply to the door, filled with an emotion I had never felt, an emotion that I never wanted to feel again.
Everything looked red. It could have been because of the darkened house: shadows covered every corner. With every step I took, red was the only color that stood out. Or it could have been my boiling blood, lifting to my eyes as my pulse quickened.
I wasn’t even aware that I ran down the stairs, my steps seeming to pound over the thunder. I turned into the living room so quickly that I nearly tripped. I stopped in front of the television. Virgil was sitting before me, slumped in the chair. He had a whisky in his hand. Several empty bottles surrounded him.
“Kid, git outta the way!”
I’d never heard my voice so loud. It was as though someone else had taken hold of my vocal chords and was using them like a megaphone.
An arrogant smile crossed Virgil’s unshaven face. Something inside of me ignited. “What about ‘em, kid?”
I felt my eyes dart to every corner of the room. I’d somehow forgotten every other word in the English language except–
“Yeah,” Virgil laughed thickly around his bottle; the sound was slightly muffled. “Them good records.” He raised his bottle in a would-be-toast. “Thanks, kid!” He chuckled again. “Pretty penny,” he said dumbly, motioning to the television. “Now move.”
My throat felt tight, yet my volume didn’t lower. “They were mine!”
My mind was reeling; half of my brain was supplying memory after memory: My dad telling my about each album–The Wall, Abbey Road, Back in Black, Quadrephenia; Mom and Dad dancing to “Wonderful Tonight”; Dad singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” as he poured over his work. The other half of my brain was picturing me hitting Virgil over the head with one of his precious whisky bottles.
“They were mine! Don’t you understand that! They were all I had–they were… they were… MINE!”
Virgil opened his mouth, but I didn’t want to hear any argument. I didn’t care what sort of drunken logic Virgil tried to use.
Or, rather, what string of curses Virgil was going to shout.
No, it was my turn. My turn to yell.
“They were mine, you–you–” I couldn’t think of any word that would suffice. “MY ALBUMS!”
“Is that all you can say, kid? ‘My albums, my albums–oh no my precious albums!’” Virgil’s voice was high-pitched.
“No!” I reached forward, grabbing a bag of potato chips and flinging them across the room. A few chips hit Virgil in the face, and he blinked slightly. “You stupid, asshole, they were mine!” The curse had left my lips before I had the chance to stop it. I couldn’t recall every cursing with that much ferocity.
Virgil rose, standing over me. He was much taller than I was, and he towered over me like a statue. But my common sense hadn’t returned. I was still breathing heavily when he said:
“You ain’t gonna talk to me like that in my house, kid!”
“I will! This isn’t your house! Mom and I can’t stand you! Get out! Get out, just leave us alone!” I numbly realized that magazines were flying through the air; it dimly registered that I was the one throwing them. “You can’t come in here and steal our stuff! It’s not yours! Just get out! Just leave us alone!”
I reached for an unopened bottle and smashed it against the floor. It hit the hardwood with a satisfying crash.
I stopped, hunched over slightly, breathing hard. The amber liquid spread across the floor, soaking my already wet shoe.
“They were my–” I stopped.
Virgil had come closer. He had a look in his eye that I had never seen, nor could ever begin to describe. I wondered if it was the same look I’d had moments ago, a look that no longer held a trace in my gaze. I backed up slightly, remembering who I was–scrawny Todd Everett–and who Virgil was.
Virgil: drunk and angry.
The smashed beer bottle seemed to awaken something from inside him, something far more violent than I could ever be.
“I told yer mom that if we ain’t got started disciplin’ ya’ we’d have ourselves a shit load of problems.”
“And look what we’ve got.”
I backed up so much that I hit the television. I didn’t look away from Virgil as the television fell, sparking and buzzing dully before the screen went black.
I was in my room. The door was still on the floor. I’d balled myself into the corner where my records had once been. My eyes stayed on the doorway, as though Virgil would come crashing through it.
I nuzzled my head into my arms. When I looked up, a streak of blood had been left on my sleeve.
I wasn’t thinking about anything, just sitting, staring at the metal box where I kept my stories.
I don’t know what logic I used as stood, reaching for my book bag. I grabbed my composition book. I thrust the book into the metal box, and lifted it into my arms.
My records were gone. They were gone because Dad was gone.
They were all I’d had left of Dad; they were all I’d had to hold onto.
(“Well… I think that Todd Everett sounds like the name of an author.”)
I shook my head against the memory.
All I was doing was holding on when there was nothing to grasp. It was gone, all of it.
I didn’t want any of it. I didn’t want this life anymore! I didn’t want to write stories without an end, because I knew that The Man’s story would never end. There wasn’t any place for me to stop… it would just continue until… until….
I was sick of the story that just reminded me of my father, sick of remembering my father and feeling empty.
I’d rather feel numb than empty.
And the only way to do that was to get rid of what was filling the emptiness.
I was just tired of everything–period.
And I wanted everyone to know how tired I was. I wanted to world to see what I was feeling. I wanted Mom to see. I wanted to Virgil to see.
I crossed the room to my door, and ran down the stairs. I grabbed my bike, placing the metal box beneath my arm, and hopped onto the seat.
The rain was pouring, the thunder was echoing, and I was riding: alone, with nothing except The Man In The Shadows for company.
And he wouldn’t be there for long.
Copyright Sarah Davidson 2020