Thursday, July 01, 2004

SATMATC 14: Home, Or What's Left of It

I managed a good bit of sleep in the back seat--I guess my subconscious figured that I was too far away to grab the wheel when Shea lost control again, and I was too tired to drive any more. Maybe a steady diet of Sun Chips and Coke had done this to me, as well--I don't know, but the next thing I knew, we were pulling over in Indiana again. It was still dark, but Shea was complaining of seeing spiderwebs in the road, so I knew he was about finished.

Amazing, when you push your body to the very depths of exhaustion, what a few hours of sleep will do. I drove through sunrise, through ANOTHER snowstorm outside of St Louis, and then all day through that purely maddening stretch of road that is I-44 between St. Louis and Tulsa, or as it's called on maps, "Missouri."

We arrived in Oklahoma City without much incident, and I was rather disheartened to remember that I had to take Shea all the way across town to his grandmother's place. We hadn't spoken a word to each other since the snowstorm, some 12 hours earlier, and I was glad of that. In fact, I don't think I've spoken a word with him since dropping him off that night.

I turned onto 36th Street at 11pm, after driving something like 20 straight hours, and saw an unfamiliar shiny black pickup in my driveway. As I parked my car in the yard and got out, stretching my legs on Oklahoma soil for what seemed like the first time in months, a strange dude in a black cowboy hat came outside with an armload of stuff, and put it in the back of the truck. He gave me a dirty look, then went back inside.

Inside, of course, I found Alethea. I also found a lot of dust bunnies, and a few pee-stained newspapers, and my stereo. I didn't find much else.

This is when I found out about The Treachery of Dink, and what her phone call to NYC had been about. She calmly but sadly told me about the condom wrapper on the floor, and how she felt that she couldn't trust me any more, and that she had no choice but to take all of her stuff back and end our relationship, forever.

What could I say? I could have argued, yes, and maybe I could have convinced her that no fucking had actually taken place in "our bedroom." In time, I think she came to that conclusion on her own. But with a brief clarity I saw that this was the best of all possible things: I was going to sleep on the floor for a few days (in fact, on a really sturdily constructed dining room table that belonged to the landlord), and I was going to be lonely as hell, but the bandaid would be ripped off for both of us. Everything that was left in the house was mine--I didn't have to see her or think about her again, if I didn't want to (as if I had a choice, but that came easier with time). I didn't have to worry about coordinating retrieval of this or that object with her, and I didn't have to worry about that fucking dog. I had to pay all the bills, which was OK, and I had to drink myself to sleep most nights, alone, but that was OK too.

After they left, I dragged the table from the dining room into the living room, where the heater was. Heating proved to be a major issue in that place--there was a nice one in the living room, an inefficient gas stove located in the fireplace, and then a small space heater in the bathroom, about as far away from the living room as you could get. I shut down the rest of the house--entire rooms were closed off and had the lightbulbs scavenged. I put the catbox in the bedroom, where "our bed" used to be. It was freezing in most of the house, but I could keep it livable in the bathroom, so at nights I'd go home, grab a beer from the case sitting in the dining area, and retreat to the bathroom to bathe myself. Once done with that, I'd flee back into the actually pleasant part of the house, grab another beer, and turn on the CD player. Then I'd lie on my back on the table, watching the square panes of light from passing cars wash the walls and ceiling until I fell asleep.


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