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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

If The River Was Whiskey



Dear Captain,

By now you know I moved out. My sister and I both did. It was time. I know leaving you a letter in an empty house with a fuckload of unpaid bills was a shitty way to do it. Shame on us.

A year ago in January you went crazy again. Between chucking knives into the wall, smashing bottles, and peeing yourself during drunken slumbers, I began to fear your eventual breakdown. All that talk of boatjacking on the Mississippi and death by cop were amusing until I realized you meant it.

Moving away from that suburban hellhole in Elk Grove to Chicago seemed to help, for a while. While we had the money, going out and getting wasted seemed like a wonderful pastime. You stopped treating me like your live-in psychologist. No more of that "I'm a bad person" fishing for compliments I got so sick of. No drunken pleadings for affirmation of your human value. The angry empty black hole went silent, and like the old days, we were buddies.

When my sister moved in, you reverted. I warned her that she was joining a bachelor pad. That we were slobs. Noisy. Crude. I made it clear that we weren't going to change much.

I appreciate your willingness to help her out when she needed somewhere to go. I still do. That you went and decided to develop an inferiority complex was not her fault. So you hate yourself. Your family. Women. Coworkers. But most of all yourself. I get it. You blamed her for representing everything you're not, but secretely wish you were. I get it. I dealt with it. I played referee.

I accepted you as an unrepentant hopeless drunk fifteen years ago. Call me codependent, fine. I've seen you behave like a bile tsunami many times in the past. Mostly you were pathetic and idiotic, but until those Elk Grove episodes in January last year, never frightening.

I always agreed when you said "We're best friends. Brothers. Right? I'm the Captain, you're the XO. We're gonna storm this fuckin' city. Right?" I always answered affirmative. Maybe I was hedging. Maybe I was lying. Maybe I was dumb dog loyal, and wanted our bond to be true, but somewhere in my evolved recesses, I knew I didn't mean it when I answered "yes." Maybe I was just waiting for an excuse to ditch.

You sure as hell provided them.

You were shitfaced, so you may not remember these incidents with any clarity.

You threw a Polish sausage in the oven, set it to 400, and passed out. Anita got home ten minutes before me, threw open the windows to let smoke out, yanked the battery from the smoke alarm, and opened the oven to let the billowing black clouds stench their way through the apartment and out to the sky. She woke you up, understandably furious. You proceeded to berate her for not buying oven cleaner and scrubbing the oven, claiming you'd merely been preheating the oven and that the old scum in it was burning, not the sausage you half-assedly plopped on a pizza pan and chucked in there. You then went to the kitchen to butter fry a greyish maroon spoiled steak on the stove-top, mindless of the horrid gusts rising from the oven, sooting up your face like a chimney sweep. I got home and received a verbal lashing after my vociferous scolding of you. You claimed I was being an unreasonable asshole, expecting contrition for a simple honest mishap.

Anita decided to take immediate action to depart, and began scheduling apartment showings.

I didn't hop on board with her right away. Not until I heard what you did during the last week of January this year. Is January your appointed month for bulge-eyed murderous psychopathy?

I was at work. You two were home. You got mad about the bill sharing arrangements we all mutually agreed upon. You got drunk (Jack Daniels and PBR, plenty of each by noon) and went to her room to wake her up and scream at her, looming over her while she was barely awake, making vague threats like "Don't fuck with me, don't you dare fucking try to cross me, you have no idea what I'm capable of, no idea what I've done in the past. Watch the fuck out, you fucking bitch."

She went to shower and leave. She wanted to get as far away from you as possible. You played something by Eminem at full blast, with lyrics something like "Shut up when I'm talkin bitch, I'll fucking kill you." Then you turned it down to call one of your weird skeevy little gangster coworkers. You said, drunk and oblivious to your volume, "Remember what we talked about? It's on. Now. Get over here. NOW!" You know what that sounds like, right? Anita left without finishing her makeup or hair curling, essentially fleeing for her safety. She recounted the events the next morning when I took her to get her car back from a tow.

Normally I would've brought this up with you. I always did that so we could talk out our dispute and put it behind us. I had no intention of forgiving this one, so I stayed silent until a week ago. You begged me to drink with you, claiming I'd stopped acting like your friend. True. So we drank. And I spilled.

When you learned she was afraid of you, you got even angrier. Our conversation ended uncomfortably. I went to bed around 5:00 AM. Shortly afterwards, Anita got up and got in the shower. You stayed awake, staring holes in the wall, stewing a fresh cauldron of ugliness. Finally, with a full head of steam, you burst into the bathroom.

Screaming at her. She, naked, showering, threatened, vulnerable, nothing but a plastic curtain between her and a drunken Tasmanian fuckhead.

I wasn't asleep yet. I got up quickly, interceded, and provided her safe passage from the apartment. You invited us to get the fuck out of your house.

Guess what? I accept.

You haven't seen her since, you may have noticed. Maybe once or twice, when I was home to provide cover. So she could pack. And surprise! I packed too. We both left.

That money I supposedly owe you? I'm not paying February rent. I left on the 3rd. I'd love to fulfill my obligations from other bills I accrued, but I have a new apartment, security deposit, and moving expenses to consider.

So go ahead and get mad. You put us all here.

I hope you do get your shit together. I hope you do find something to live for, a purpose, an order in chaos. Hell, maybe we can still be friends sometime down the road. In the meantime, grow up. Stop blaming your parents. Your shitty childhood. The world around you. Look to yourself. Look in the mirror. If you can't accept responsibility for your own life, you'll continue to drive away your friends. You'll finally succeed with some form of suicide.

Don't. Choose to change. Choose to live.

Greener pastures, man.
2:01 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm


March 18, 2009 8:48 AM, Blogger ty bluesmith said...

if the river was whiskey is a nod to t.c. boyle?

March 18, 2009 5:37 PM, Blogger Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm said...

Yes. I bought the book but haven't read it yet, but I love the title, so I swiped it.


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