Planet Earth is populated by 6.6 billion people. How many of them do you think have any redeeming social value? The vast majority were worth fuck all. The pessimist in me thought the scale tipped in favor of the shitty selfish direction. I was also aware that I was most likely to be lumped into that category as well. A hard pill to swallow but I had no delusions about myself. The world didn’t need me in it. The world would do well without most of us. When was the next comet scheduled to hit? The world itself had a low existence value.
I have made a point to withhold details about myself. I have intentionally omitted personal particulars about how I came to be a temporary squatter in the boiler room of 534. It wasn’t pertinent then, but I felt that if I divulged you’d maybe understand what shaped my cynical, defeatist approach to life. It wasn’t necessarily that I was a downer but the reality that life itself was the downer. It was not a complaint but an acknowledgement. I was not fooled.
On any ordinary night at my house there was fighting. On occasion there were sirens or flashing lights. If the police weren’t there to mediate, it was an ambulance to assist my mother in emptying the contents of her stomach. Nothing crazy. Old news. At my last place of residence, which we moved so much it was difficult to remember the exact addresses, I’d mix up numbers and street names, I always had difficulty sleeping, often lying awake, listening to them try to hurt each other’s feelings or worse, trying to kill one another. I’d stare into the darkness of whichever room was mine in whichever abode, pondering the meaning of life, the motives behind certain people’s actions and what it was that I wanted from life. I wanted simplicity and some fucking peace and quiet. The boiler room was not so bad after all. I wanted the opposite of what I had lived thus far. I wanted the opposite of what I was used to. I wanted something different than what I was raised in. That seemed impossible. Was it wrong to not want a life that wasn’t tarnished in some way? There was always something to ruin it. Perfection was a myth. My parents taught me about all the things I didn’t want in life.
The loss of respect for a person you love is one of the worst things that could happen. And from time to time it happened. My parents lost my respect early on. Other people I was close to at one point in time I had lost respect for as well. The problem there is you never regain respect once it’s gone. You never see them the same. It’s over.
I knew exactly what was transpiring beyond the scratched up front door. I had seen that movie, read that book, and heard that song on repeat. I didn’t want to go inside. I thought I had nowhere to go. Even if the truth was I wasn’t alone, I absolutely felt alone. I didn’t want to have to rely on anyone. It’s bad enough I relied on my fucking parents for all these wretched years. It made me feel terrible about myself. If I was smarter I wouldn’t have to endure them. If I saved more money or made more I wouldn’t have to be reliant upon them. I hated it here, here being this apartment, here being this city, here being this state, this fucking planet. I had only been back a week and nothing had changed. It never changed with them. How many couches was I going to surf? I occupied various loveseats and pull-out sofas, spare bedrooms, and clung to the beds of strange women, any place was better than mine.
I’d leave for a few days or a few weeks or a few months. I’d give almost anything to not have to share any space or air with my parents. Even with the best of friends you can wear out your welcome. And I’ve yet to have a relationship with a woman work out. So there was back living amongst my dysfunctional family.
I slid the key into the lock and thought twice about going in.
I didn’t have any skills. I didn’t have a college degree. High school was a joke, like everything else it prepared me for nothing in the real world. I knew of alcoholism. I knew of drug addiction. I knew of infidelity, and of domestic abuse. I watched these traits unfold daily. I paid close attention to people making mistakes and then followed suit, and made some mistakes of my own, which I unlike them take full accountability for. I knew about making bad decisions but I didn’t know the first thing about opening a bank account or any other normal mature adult things. Which is what I craved, something normal. I vowed to never tolerate such behavior. I promised myself once I was out of this hell I’d never again be at the mercy of other people’s actions. I would never have to get over something I didn’t like. I wanted to be able to leave anywhere I might be, anytime I wanted. That was true freedom. That was the autonomy I desired.
I had my shit to sort out. I had to clear my head. I didn’t want to follow in anyone’s footsteps obsessing over someone else’s transgressions. If I couldn’t forgive myself for my own fuck ups how could I forgive someone else’s? I needed to get out and be alone and wait for as long it took before surrounding myself with people again. I needed to fix myself, I had known all along that I was broken.
My parents were screaming at each other. They lashed out at each with nasty remarks, slurs targeting bodily imperfections and past sins. How many doors have I stood before, exhaling deeply and wishing that I didn’t have to enter. There was a loud crash followed by a louder thud. My mother shrieked. I hated the sound of her voice. The door knob stuck a little but I got it open as quickly as I could, my father stood over her in the kitchen, she had her hand open above her head to block her face, though I hadn’t seen him throw a punch. I ran toward the man, he meant nothing to me, he wasn’t my father, he was nobody, a guy who we lived with, I grabbed his face with an open palm and threw him, launching him backwards against the stove, knocking frying pans and pots and lids to the floor. He could put his filthy hands on the woman who birthed me but wasn’t as quick to raise his fists to me. After all, I wasn’t twelve years old anymore.
“No. No. No,” she said, weeping. “Don’t do this.”
“How dare you put your fists up to me? This is my house.” It wasn’t a house. It wasn’t a home. It was a shitty apartment where the rent was due three months. It was embarrassing to run into the landlord coming or going, I’d look away in shame.
“Fuck you,” I said. “Don’t you ever touch my mother again. I will break your fucking jaw. You hear me?”
“I want you out. I want you of this this fucking house. Right fucking now.”
“Why don’t you take me out?” I asked, standing before him with my fists raised in an orthodox boxing stance. I was prone to fits of rage. It was anger that pumped the blood out of my heart. I knew violence intimately. Those stories were suited for dimly lit bars over four fingers of whiskey. I fantasized about murdering my father, assholes in the neighborhood, and rude strangers I passed in the street. “This is not a house. It’s a brothel. A fucking mental institution. You know what? On second thought you can keep this shithole all to yourself.”
The Henckels 14 piece knife set on the counter called out to me. Each knife like a school kid with an eager hand reaching for the sky, impatiently waiting for me to call on them to answer a question. It wasn’t the first time the thought of hurting him crossed my mind. I often thought of hurting someone. One hard stab with the chef’s knife. One quick slash with a Santoku knife. A little incision with the three inch paring knife. I had hurt people for less, he was fortunate I had shown restraint all these years, mercy even. I could have killed him in his sleep. He saw the way I looked at the knives. I wondered if he could guess which one I wanted to use. The truth was I’d use them all.
He looked at me aghast, thinking I might just have it in me, and fumbled while putting his flight jacket on and dangled his keys as he hurried out of the front door, “I don’t want to see you here when I return.”
“It’s in your best interest that our paths never meet again.”
He slammed the door behind him. A futile act of aggression.
“I don’t need this shit from you. All the time you’re always causing me trouble.”
“I’m the problem? I was defending you.”
“You’ve always been the problem,” she screamed. “Pack your shit. Take whatever you need and get the fuck out.”
I always felt like a stranger, a guest that overstayed his welcome. It was never my place. No place has ever been mine. No family has ever been mine. No woman has ever been mine. Nothing was mine. I had no claim or ownership to anything.
People will always be angry with you in regards to how you perceive any wrongdoings or worse, and if you intervene, then they will resent you more than the person who committed the actual wrongdoing against them. We were all criminals robbing one another of affection and whores fucking up each other’s lives. We all hurt each other. There was no other way. There was no escaping it. Is there really any reason to salvage these contaminated relationships we have? Is there any point in starting any new ones? I teetered.
I went into the bedroom they designated for me, how gracious of them to provide a room to one so seditious. I grabbed a jansport and started cramming a few articles of clothing into it. A pair of black jeans, cargo shorts and a camouflage button down. Some band t-shirts, boxer briefs and low cut socks. My ipod. She was in my ear belittling me, ripping posters of my favorite Mets players and metal and hardcore bands off the wall, throwing and breaking CDs from my collection. A collection that once meant a great deal to me, but now retained no value. I never thought about killing her. Not once.
I knew if I raised my hand to her, or any woman for that matter, then I’d be like him and that was exactly the person I didn’t want to be.
“Get out. Now.”
“I want you to know that this is the best thing you could have ever done for me.”
“Oh, yeah,” she said, “Real tough, Rainer. You’re nothing. You think you can hurt me? You hurt me enough. Now don’t come back here. Do that for me. Don’t come back.”
We say things from time to time in the heat of the moment that we instantly regret. We don’t always mean the vicious things we say but they’re there waiting for the right moment to bite. We are all poisonous serpents, only we walk upright. I wanted to say something deadly. I think I always had a bit of nastiness in me. What was the use? Instead, I closed the door calmly behind me and knew I would never come back again, knowing there were other methods to kill a person.