I played video games a majority of the time when I was at home. Often only the one’s with a riveting story line. It felt like I was apart of it, like I was playing the character’s life and I did so however I wanted. Another world. I averaged about 6 to 7 hours in this other world until my mother came home from work, as it always went. My dad worked as well, except he’d started coming home in the middle of the night most nights, since I was eight or nine, a few months after his reappearance back into our household. I had [and will never have] any idea where my father had come back into our lives from. My mother didn’t seem to react strongly in any way when he returned, only acted as if he’d been out picking up groceries. So I followed suit; thought and reacted to the predicament as such was so.
I did so because of two reasons: I had already been raised privy to the consequences that would be implemented through any oppositions I had with my mother. And the other because my brother probably had no recollection of him nor his departure, anyway. He’d only been on the planet for two years and the only person I could speak to about it. I was three years older but I remembered when he left, and remember my mother’s reaction. She didn’t have one then, either. The odds were 2 to 1 should I have had any questions about him so I didn’t. I played it safe and never did. In all the years we spent living under the same roofs, it was as if I had taught the “do not talk to strangers” rule with him. I didn’t know I was doing that, but I hadn’t spoken to strangers growing up because that’s what everyone taught us. My father felt like a stranger. The biggest attempt at bonding was when he presented my brother and I, a Gamestation game console. That was also one of the last attempts, and I found it almost moving because I knew how expensive it was and how frugal the family had to be.
I had absolutely no idea what other 8th graders were doing after school nor during their weekends. I didn’t care. Before the Gamestation became a part of our lives, my brother, Morris (preferred over his birth-name of Morriz), was the only real relationship I had with someone close to my age. His dull interests were a justified because he was three years my junior. I just watched all kinds of movies, collected comic books, and acted out action movies of my own.
There was a shop on the route I used to walk to and from school. I was always scared to walk in that store because my mother wasn’t with me. Whenever I walked into a store, my mother was always there. She never actually told me I wasn’t allowed in a store without her. I didn’t like to do it because it felt different, and something different meant something wasn’t right, and if something wasn’t right to me, something was wrong. I thought there would be some kind of consequence. Different scared the shit out of me. Me in the shop alone, was different, but I managed to walk in one day.
A perk about the route I took was partly responsible; it was the same route another student from school used, a girl. A pretty one I wanted to know the name to, whom suddenly, walked into that store one day. I did not follow. I debated for a week, whether or not to walk into that place. Oddly, it taunted my ever-increasing curiosity, but alas, my curiosity became too fucking loud to ever become quiet. I finally entered and discovered the addicting world of comic books.
Before long, I no longer cared about what that girl’s name was. She was just something I stared at the ass of while I walked to the comic book store. I wasn’t particularly fascinated in a comics’ story line as I was fascinated by the drawings themselves. Some I recognized, others I began to recognize. I’d begun saving up spare change, and whatever I had went to that store. My favorite magazine to buy was this one called Sorcerer. Sorcerer magazine was to the world of comics as Vogue was to the world of fashion. Artists interviews, collaborations, jokes, things to look forward to, and most importantly, detailed sketches of how certain drawings came to fruition onto the page of a comic book. Renders of characters faces and bodies dramatically exaggerated emotions so beautifully. I didn’t feel the need to pay too much attention to whatever was written inside the dialogue bubbles. I already knew with the next frame. I read some of the comics. Familiarized myself with a character’s name, but often I came up with my own dialogue for them. I made them say what I wanted them to say within the corresponding frame, and these drawings and their stories flowed through my mind like a river, as a children’s Saturday morning cartoon would on the television screen. I wanted to create my own, despite the fact I’d never drawn before. Which is why the sketches were intriguing to me as they were like blueprints from which I could build. Whatever I’d create could be anything. Something that I alone, desired. I shared that power, that feeling with my brother because the overflowing excitement from it all, couldn’t be shared with anyone else I didn’t know. I thought it was the coolest fucking thing in the world. All kinds of colors.
Throughout our youth, my family and I relocated often, and a large database of foreign and american films were always with us. I watched every single one multiple times, including movies that were supposedly inappropriate, which never mattered unless it was porn (of which I knew was hidden above the closet). I was already very well exposed to the variety of profanities courtesy of the schoolyard, as well as exposed to violence. Some dead bitch that was shot with a 12 gauge shotgun blast to the neck with her head rolling a few feet away in a movie didn’t scare me. I’d even act them out. My reenactments were often of me blasting bad motherfuckers to hell with my finger pistols or slicing cocksucker criminals in half with a katana made of lightning. This was playing to me. A childhood sport.
If Morris played with me, we’d act out similar cheesy story-lines as well. I made-believe with my brother even after the 8th grade. I had no I idea I wasn’t supposed to. I have had a cast of imaginary friends from a young age, except I shot or killed them all. Morris had his own cast and movies often as well, but mine were too interesting for me to ask him about his. It felt like an imaginary competition. It was show business, and it was the mother and father that raised us.
My father was unexpectedly home one day after school. My brother attended a different school so he arrived home earlier and was sitting at the kitchen table. Our father was cooking something in a skillet that smoked dangerously from the stove. He turned his head and saw me, frozen in place with my backpack dangling off my forearm, then continued back to the stove. Without a word, I pulled up a seat next to Morris and quietly asked him what he was doing home.
“He was ‘ready home.” he replied at full volume.
“Oh,” I said, trying hard not to question the unscheduled appearance. That was my father after all, he was allowed into his home at his leisure. It became increasingly hard because his presence was different. Something was wrong, ergo, wasn’t right. I felt nauseous and ready to vomit. I didn’t want that to happen in front of my father. I turned back to Morris, “What is he cooking?”
“I dunno. He just said to sit.” Morris replied in a tone absent of curiosity.
We watched a few minutes more until my father was done. He pulled two plates out of the white cupboard (which turned grayish) and placed them on the burners atop the stove. He split the mystery he was cooking onto the plates and walked them both over. He placed them in front of Morris and I. The thing on my brother’s plate was flat and had the silhouette of a top-hat, and mine of a boot. Both charred with a deep blackness. It was the first time I’d seen my father cook, and I found out why. My father walked back with the same skillet and poured a brownish sludge onto our plates. Then he sat across the table, picked up a fork, and started eating from the skillet. His eyes focused only into the skillet as he ate, a ring of black crumbs collected around his mouth. I stared at him, still wanting to vomit. I had hoped the meal would be the only change that afternoon. The change had already irritated my nausea. The brown sludge was different and looked wrong. The whole plate looked like a consequence as opposed to a meal, and when I turned to see Morris’ disgust, I saw that he’d already eaten half the fucking thing without a hint of distaste. Then my father looked up at me.
“You should eat. We’re moving tomorrow to a safer part of L.A. at noon, your mom isn’t coming home tonight, you’re both going to new schools, we have to pack everything, there’s a Gamestation in the hall the both of you can play at the new house.” He listed. He stared a moment longer then slurped the last of the sludge leftover in his skillet as he got up. He washed it off quickly in the sink, and disappeared into the next room.
“There might be a cooler comic book store at the new place.” Morris said briefly and continued eating. Suddenly, with his mouthful of char and brown sludge, a thought hit him, “Ooooh, I gotta go say bye to some friends!” he exclaimed as he kicked his feet. Then scarfed down the sludge, and disappeared into our room.
I wasn’t worried about my mother because my father seemed to be calm. So I was too. However, the idea of going to a new school, meant my reputation at Rutherford would be gone. I’d have to start from nothing. People could speak to me without fear or having been forced to. The possibility seemed very inconvenient to me. The comic book store would be gone from the route I took to go home. That seemed disappointing as well as inconvenient to me. I’d have to learn a new route to go to and from school which also seemed inconvenient. The dead rat corpses would be shared for dissection, which seemed inconvenient without an obvious reason to me. Miss Spittel’s glorious, bouncing tits wouldn’t shine headlights of joy into the darkness the loomed over most of my days, and that seemed less inconvenient as it seemed more inhumane. The ever-fortunate 4th period Gym class and Aubrey Porter’s blossoming tits would be gone, though inconvenient seemed heart-wrenching. All those things were so routine, so fucking O.K., would be replaced with different, change, and incorrect. The stable structure safely securing sanity, sanity I gave myself was being deconstructed overnight. As these thoughts perpetuated, the room spun itself into a blur, echoing the last words that came from Morris. With that, I vomited onto the charred black dinner boot on my plate before everything went black. Morris said his goodbyes to friends that, for him, seemed inconvenient to have to say a goodbye to, which inconveniently felt like a betrayal to me.