Wait, I'm off on the wrong foot. Do I even have a right foot? They both seem wrong to me, or at least left (I've never been great at soccer).
See it was one of those nights, where the rain is just cold enough to feel like it's sloughing off your skin, itching your veins, you know?
One of those nights where the neon lights up the falling drops like rockets plummeting through the vacuum of space. Do you ever look down at the ground, and watch the rain form in its little puddles of translucent light? I do. It's stupid, really. Stupid.
So there I was. Under the overhang from a stupid fancy French restaurant, hands shoved in pockets. I didn't even know I had one in my pocket, anyway. I knife, I mean. He comes by with a look on his face. A look of when you know the plane has crashed, the friend had died, but the unspoken remains unspoken. Just a slight tilt of the eyebrows, a curl of the lip. Whispers behind your bedroom door.
I could tell he had money. No, screw that, he was filthy rich. And I mean filthy. He just walked out of a limo. A freaking LIMO! Chrome siding, the smell of leather was overwhelming and clean, so clean. The driver gave me a look. A Don't Even Think About It look. I get those a lot.
He doesn't stop when he sees me loitering there, in the sparse rain. He just shambles on by. That expensive suit of his is slightly crumpled, crumpled like his thin, shadowed frame. Reminds me of the shadows we always saw through the closed, decrepit curtains in the abandoned house down the block. Were they real? I never checked. I always saw them at night, through the corner of my eye…
I raise a hand, unevenly. Say a sharp, curt hello. Does he stop? I think you know the answer to this. So I follow him into the French diner, the one with the conveniently placed overhang. The one with the translucent puddles.
He makes for the bar. On the TV, bright and seductive, plays a news clip of another celebrity mishap we should care about. He glances at it once, before slumping into a designer bar stool.
The bartender is clearly drained. He gives him a tired what will you be wanting, sir? All I get is another Look. You know the Look. You've given it to me before.
He orders a big fat foreign beer, and pays for it with a thick trio of tens. He says it's all he has, all he's got with him. No problem sir, we've got the change. Keep it, he replies, sunken like a derelict battleship, worn from war. Keep the damn change.
Now I must ask myself, where did he get this money, this juicy wad of green? I don't recall he walked out our red door with it. All I remember him carrying is the car keys and a fresh bottle of cheap alcohol. Did you see anything else?
Maybe he stole it. That's it, I think, as I watch him as he downs the foreign drink, the one that cost him thirty flat. He must have stolen it. I think my subconscious made that part up, though. To justify my crime.
You ask if I have problems? Sure, I got 'em all. Multiple Personality, dementia, Schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive, delirium, insomnia, trauma. Maybe that's why I was out on that stupid, dismal neon night anyway.
Or maybe that's why I followed him into the bathroom, after he finished my drink. I was angry, angry and clenched in the fist of Dumb Reasons to Kill. It's a cold fist, and one that I've never quite broken out of.
The bathroom, to be honest, was a shithole. I don't swear often, despite my shabby exterior. This dump deserved it.
Plaster peeled from the walls like it was trying to escape, and the mirrors stared shell-shocked back at you as if to say really? You're THAT ugly? Shivering shards of the glass littered the bare basins, and grime crawled like ivy up the sides of the gray stalls.
He stops in front of a basin. Checks his hair, slicked back and silver-blond. Leans over the off-white porcelain, and sighs a heavy, rich-guy sigh. He must have practiced that one.
I ignored him. I lean back on one soiled wall, and survey the ceiling, trying to fight back the tide of anger blackness threatening to blanket my tarnished nerves.
Graffiti is all over the white. There's only one quote, up there though, surrounded by guilt and grime. A line from a song, I think. Running to Stand Still.
I think that artist had it all wrong. I'm not running, you know. I'm right here, still in the bathroom. I'm standing still, but I think I'm running too. I think I've always been running. I don't know what I'm racing, but I know if I look back it'll be there, grinning and growling and gaining on me.
So I just wait it out. A caged tiger, so to speak. Simmering.
His blood is still all over my hands, mind you. I couldn't get it out. No matter how hard I scrubbed, how hard and scratched with the lumpy water from the basin tap, it still stains my rubbed-raw palms. All over, accusing.
He shouts your name at the mirror. He shouts it and apologizes to it, screaming it over and over until his voice is as raw as my peeling skin.
Lola lola lola lola. Sorry, Lola, I left and I'm sorry. Lola lola lola lola. Sorry Lola. Sorry.
I can't take it anymore. It burns my ears. Crawls, shivering, up my spine. I take out that amazing appearing knife, and I raise it above my head, and I take a deep breath and…
And. And he looks at me. With those dark, bloodshot eyes, stained with alcohol and nicotine. Stained with tears.
Son, he says, more like asks. I stop for a second, a fraction of an eternity.
His lip curls in remorse and revolt.
This is not an apology.
I hope you know that.
I hope you know that he deserved what he got, and he's still sorry for what he did, what he did on that rainy neon night so long ago, when he screamed from the dingy dusky living room that he couldn't take it anymore, that he was done.
(This is not an apology).
I take a look at the puddles and the rocket-ship rain out the window, watch as they slide and convulse out of view.
(This is not an apology).
I'm not running, Mom. I'm standing still. So still, in fact, that by the time you get this letter I'll have disappeared, Mom. Somewhere shiny, I hope. Somewhere warm and sunny where rain doesn't wash away your father's blood and your mother's tears.
(This is not an apology).
But it can be, if you want it to.