Crash #6 from Ten Crashes

All I have to do is get out the door. I knew this would be bad, and it's bad. Alex is throwing a rubber ball against the playroom wall ping ping ping like a little ice pick in the brain, and I'd tell him to stop but what's the point now. Jeremy is chewing his knuckle in the corner of the room, following me and Laura around the house as we try not to scream at each other. I'd tell him to stop chewing his knuckle but he'd just start chewing his nail and beside, no point now. I'm thinking of Vicky, and I'm only thinking of a stiff drink because that's what Laura thinks I'm thinking. It's 11 in the morning and I got my problems but that's not one of them. I'm thinking yes of Vicky in bed where I'll find her later, Vicky with everything, Laura with nothing, it's not hard for me to keep my mouth shut. I'm out of here. I have no problem. I am out of here. I'm looking at the door, but I have a couple things I've got to do. I got to get some clothes, I got to get my tool box, I got to download some email and some files and that's about it. I give her my keys. I get my shit. And I'm gone. The keys she says. I'm thinking I should get my stuff before I hand them over, but the less I have to hear her voice the better so here. Did you make copies, she says. Her mouth down turned into that face I'll never have to stare at again. Down turned like everything else about her. No, I didn't make copies. And I almost laugh. What am I going to do, sneak in and raid the fridge? Scare everybody? When are you going to see the boys. Whenever they want to see me. Every day, she says, and she's all choked up. Jeremy's got his hands in his face and he's looking at the floor. She can cry, fine, but this is not what you think, I want to tell him, but not now.

They all think it's Vicky, but it's long before that. Your mother wanted me to be things I'm not going to be, and she just figured she'd get her way like she usually does by poking and frowning, but some things you don't get that way. Management, she wants me to be management but I am not management and I don't want to be management. She can be management. She said, goals, she wants me to have goals. Sounding like her mother. She took out a pen and a pad and wants to help me. She wants a day care we can't afford. I say it's what they get at home that counts. It goes on. I can't take it. It was over before Vicky. Jeremy when they found the email and this was said and that was said and I said OK, I'm sleeping elsewhere, he said do you have a picture of her. My twelve-year-old son wants to see a picture of her. To see what exactly? I got two in my wallet. One I can't show him. But I say, no, it's not what you think. And I never ever intended to hurt anybody's feelings.

In the basement I get a big trash bag, double it, still not good enough to hold the table saw. Shit. I don't want to come back for it. I don't want to leave it. I have no where to put it, not Vicky's place, so fuck it. Jeremy at the top of the stairs. If you think this is easy, you're wrong. I don't say it. Just have to do this. Ping ping and the footsteps over my head. Alex is eight but he's the size of a six-year-old. At least he can catch. Clothes next. Anything I don't take now is as good as gone. The cell goes off. Come on, Vicky, you can't. Pete can't be calling he knows what I'm doing today. Just think about the door. That's all I have to do. I got a lawyer for the rest.

Tools by the door, cloths in a suitcase and a bag by the door. OK. Shit, the computer. I don't want to come back and I have to get some files. Did they change the password. Laura walks out of the room in a huff. Great. Look at Jeremy, and there's just enough of a smile in his teeth on his knuckle that I know he did it, and I say, OK, fine, log on for me. Come on, let's not let this take any longer then it has to. He walks into the kitchen and before he mumbles anything his mother mumbles something back, those mumblings the two of them loved to converse in is something I won't miss either. I will teach him how to speak when the time comes. Jeremy walks by me and up the stairs, and I follow, and he rushes ahead so he can log on before I can see him type the password. Then he stands up, looking at the screen. Hands me a disk. Thank you. Alex bounds into the room.

I sit at the keyboard. Alex gets close to my shoulder like it's any Saturday and he wants to poke into his Dad's or his brother's business, and I don't have time for it now. I have to think of what I want to get off the machine. The email addresses. How to do I download these. Jeremy steps up, Alex moves aside. Jeremy tries to talk, tries to touch the mouse. You do it. I stand, and he sits and does it. Now go to my folder and take everything. I touch the screen. Come on. I'm sorry you guys. When there's more time I'll explain. Can I tell them I'm thinking about the door no I can't. I can taste it. Door, out, close, gone. Ahh. Vicky. Come on.

They follow me down the stairs. I remember the package. Tools I ordered online coming to the house. Fuck. Any day next week. I shout out Laura but choke it off after the L. Forget it, I'll get it somehow. Or I'll tell them I never got it and get it back on the credit card. Something. I can't wait. I got to get out of here.

Two trips and it's done and at the last Alex grabs my hand, and he's blinking and wiping his eyes, and says, "Daddy," in the firm voice he learned somewhere when he wants to get be heard and is about to tell something important only half the time he forgets what it is once he's got your attention. And then Jeremy says to Alex, plenty loud for me to hear, "Don't bother." The first thing he's said without mumbling all day.

I drop the bag. All right. What the fuck. Do I need this now? I want to rip the knuckles out of his teeth, yeah that's funny, that's a good one, right.? I tell you what. At that moment I am tempted to go back and be their fucking Dad, out of spite, it's not so hard, just to listen to their bullshit and drive them to Little League and do what they ask or come up with some reason not to, and fuck their mother out of spite with a clothespin over my nose and just go on sucking the same old shit. But "don't bother?" That's it. Goodbye. So much for the tossling hair and the last kiss for now, I'll be calling soon. Which I will. Or I won't. But the little jerk just slammed the door on my face and I can't see where I am and I'll have to break it down or walk through the wall like Superman or break the window and slash up my wrists just to get out, but get out I will. Just get the fuck out. So much for the doorway to heaven, even the thought of Vicky right now makes me sick. Though not for long.

About the author:

Jon Fried's published work includes short fiction in BeeHive and Eclectica; a graphic novel called "Neh-tu Not You in Legend of the Dog Rockets," created with artist Erik Wrobel, now being serialized in Greetings; and songs he has written and co-written with Deena Shoshkes, his wife, with whom he lives in New Jersey and started the Cucumbers, a band currently preparing to release their sixth album in fall of 2003.