afraid by parenthesized

2 May

“I need some bus fare.”

No response.

“Hey, I need some bus fare, man,” he said louder.

Nothing again.

“Any spare change?”  He tapped him on the shoulder this time.  Still nothing.

One last time.  “You’re my only shot man.  It’s two bucks!”  He shoved the man, a kid really, on the shoulder.

Finally, the kid looked up and pulled out his wallet, spread it open, held it like an offering.  “Take it.”

He reached in and pulled out two wrinkly one dollar bills.

“No, all of it.”  He shrugged and grabbed the rest.  “Thanks.”  A bleary stare at the driver’s license.  “Thanks, Mike.  I owe you one.”

The drunk stumbled away.  He rested his head against the light pole.  After a few minutes, he managed to get on to the bus.  Mike watched him leave, still holding his empty wallet open.  He snapped his wallet shut and massaged his temples.    Another bus passed by.  Nowhere to go.  Nowhere to be.  Nowhere to stay.

His brother, Sam, had kicked him out of the house.  Told him he was a no-good, useless, piece of shit.   His brother’s wife called him a “bad apple.”  Mike had laughed, said he had never been so insulted by a frigid WASP bitch.  That was when his brother pushed him outside and slammed the door in his face.

“Didn’t think a math prof could throw a punch,” he had shouted at the closed door.

Second door shut on him in less than a month.  First, his mother.  She said he was a handful.  Wrote him a check for five thousand dollars, acting like that was enough to stop him from telling the truth.  His brother refused to listen so Mike had started dropping hints, making some trouble at the dinner parties.  He had that ridiculous suburban life he had dreamed.  White picket fence, dog, uptight wife with a bun in the oven.  No smart-ass little brother was going to stop him from keeping it.

Especially, not a brother adopted from some drug-addicted woman their father had a one night stand with.

When Mike had found out, he wanted to meet her, his actual mother.  Wanted her to explain why she let that abusive bastard who called himself a father keep him from her.  Part of him had wanted to yell at her and throw things, come in drunk and self-righteous and full of demands.  Part of him wanted to parade her in front of his father and then the press, ruin his chance at political office.

Part of him was just afraid.

Which is why he had yet to call her.  He reached into his messenger bag and reached for the whiskey.  He took a huge gulp.  He was pathetic.  Drinking at a bus stop in the middle of the night.  Mike threw the empty bottle across the street.  The sound of breaking glass was raw and satisfying.  Why not, he mumbled to himself.

He flipped his phone open and started dialing.


We met an older, wiser Sam in stolen saturdays.


2 Responses to “afraid by parenthesized”

  1. ingridfnl May 2, 2010 at 9:41 pm #

    Poor Mike. I want so much for him to have a break…

  2. jmforceton May 3, 2010 at 8:13 pm #

    Great depiction of someone who has lost their balance, and is in freefall.

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