American Ghetto

An excerpt from the NaNoWriMo book I wrote in November:

…“You know how the last time Amanda Brecker told Chuck that he had to quit coming home so drunk that he makes a mess and then passes out?” Marjorie asked her husband over her shoulder while making the salad for dinner.

Spencer sat at the kitchen table, beer in front of him, “Yeah. That was, what, two months ago?”

“Two or three,” she agreed.

Spencer added, “He’s gotten worse over the last few years. Hell, the last time Juan and I were off the rig, we met up with him and had to help him home at the end of a night. Almost carried him.”

Marjorie agreed again with a nod and continued prepping the salad for dinner. “Well, two weekends ago, Chuck came home really drunk. Amanda heard him come in but he didn’t show up in the bedroom for a few minutes so she got up to check on him. She says she’s afraid he’s gonna burn the house down one night because he comes home and tries to heat up left-overs and then falls asleep while the food is heating up on the stove.

Marjorie walked to the kitchen table placing the salad bowl on it, “When she gets up to see after him, he’s not in the kitchen this night. And he’s not passed out on the sofa. She can’t find him anywhere. She looks in every room. Nothing. Then she hears something in the front hall. But when she gets there; still nothing. Then she hears something in the closet. When she opens the hall closet, there’s Chuck just standing there–pissing in the dark.”

Spencer had the beer up to his mouth when she got to that part and he laughed mid-swallow, forcing him to spit part of the beer back into the bottle as a result.

“Spencer, that is not funny!” Marjorie scolded him.

“What?” he protested. “You were smirking when you started the story,” he protested.

“That’s not what I was smirking about.”

“What then? What’d she do to him?”

“About that?” she said turning to the oven, “ Nothing. She just yelled, cleaned up the mess on the closet floor and smacked him. He pissed on the arms of a few of the coats for good measure so Amanda had to start a load of laundry in the middle of the night. Of course, he doesn’t remember doing it the next morning either.”

“Not surprising,” Spencer added.

The entire house smelled great when Spencer had come in ten minutes earlier, as it always did on his first evening home from the drilling rigs, but his mouth watered now as Marjorie opened the oven door and the smell of white cheddar and Parmesan macaroni filled the room with increased intensity. Marjorie was a great cook but always went out of her way to make one of his favorite dishes for his first home cooked meal in three weeks.

“Well, last weekend,” Marjorie continued as she checked the top of the dish, “he did it again. He came home so drunk that he passed out in the guest bedroom, probably to avoid Amanda, although I don’t know why. When she yells at him, he’s too drunk to remember it the next morning.”

“Well, he remembers it when he’s drunk,” said Spencer leaning back in his chair to get a look at the macaroni. He could see the macaroni bubbling under the top coat of Parmesan but the cheese on top was not yet browned and crusty, the way he liked it. His wife shut the oven door.

“Five more minutes,” she announced. “What do you mean he remembers when he’s drunk?”

“I knew someone else like that,” Spencer expanded. “It’s like having two friends. When he was sober, this guy couldn’t remember anything he did after midnight while drinking but he’d remember what he did while drunk when he was drunk. I bet the drunk Chuck knew he’d catch shit if he went into that bedroom.”

Marjorie looked dubious, “Really? That sounds weird,” and then shifted back to the story as she pulled out a chair next to his at the kitchen table. “So Amanda hears him come in and rattle around for a bit. Then she hears him go in the spare bedroom. When she goes out to the kitchen, it’s a total mess. I mean total,” she emphasized. “I saw it, she didn’t even clean up before the action began.”

Marjorie began recounting the carnage, “There were churro’s on the counter thawing out from the freezer, he’d spilled salsa and sour cream on the floor and the counter, there was a pot without water in it on the stove with four hot dogs in it, and the stove was on. Mustard was everywhere and there was a half a loaf of bread spilled on the floor while the other half was laying on the counter, two slices in the toaster. He had a can of chili opened, an opened tomato sauce jar in the sink, half of it poured into the sink.” Marjorie pulled up short, “It was worse than that, but you get the idea. It was almost like he was trying to make four or five different meals at once.

“Amanda’s screaming is what woke me up. She was yelling about how she had warned him, how she’d had enough, how he’d run out his line, and on and on. And then there was nothing for a long time and I fell back asleep.”

“The next thing I know, I’m straight up in bed from the noise. It was weird, like a screech owl. It didn’t really sound like Chuck and the noise didn’t sound like words. It was a continual, fluctuating, high-pitched scream. With this noise, I’m up and out of the bed and next door within a minute, banging on their door.”

Spencer’s eyes were dancing at the excitement of the story, “Was it unlocked?”

“No,” she said, “I had to run back to the house for their spare keys.” She paused, “Honestly, I thought that he was in there killing her. The sound was too high pitched to be him so when I ran back to our house, I grabbed the baseball bat on my way out the front door in case I had to fend him off.

“Then I’m back to their front door. I unlock it and run in. The noise is coming from down at the spare room. When I make it down the hall, the only light to see by is coming in through the room’s window. I can vaguely see Amanda swinging a broom handle at the sheets on the bed.”

“At the sheets?”

“That’s what it looked like to me when I first saw the scene. I thought she must have been hitting him with the broom handle, that Chuck rolled off the bed in self-preservation and that Amanda had just gone so mad with rage that she was still swinging away at the bed. The sheets were dancing in the air she was hitting them so hard,” Amanda’s hands were jumping up and down in demonstration. “And then I figured it out. Chuck was in the blanket. While he was passed out Amanda had sewn him up inside the blanket on the bed.”

Spencer was in the middle of lifting his beer. He slammed it back down and erupted, “She did what?”

Marjorie nodded in confirmation, “I’m telling you, she stitched him up in the blanket so he couldn’t get out and couldn’t fight back. When I asked her later, she said it took her almost half an hour to sew him up. Chuck was so drunk, he hadn’t moved once during the whole procedure. She did a good job too. He was thrashing about inside the blanket trying to escape the blows she was landing but no matter how hard he thrashed, he couldn’t escape.”

Now it was Spencer’s turn to smirk, “Ouch,” he said, “I couldn’t even imagine it; waking up drunk, in a bag, in the bag, in the dark, and being beaten by a stick.”

“No kidding,” Marjorie added. “Amanda got their push broom from the back yard and unscrewed the handle. She was choked up on it so she could raise it in the house but she was swinging it so hard that some of her back-swings were putting dents in the ceiling. Chuck was screeching in pure terror. It was the scariest sound I’ve ever heard.”

“What’d you do?”

“What’d you think I did?” she challenged. “I came up behind her and wrestled the broom handle away from her. As soon as I managed that, she began screaming at him again. Yelling at him about how she’d warned him, about what a mess he’d made, about how he deserved it. Just everything. And then she began slapping that thrashing mound of blanket until I dragged her out of the room and made her sit in the living room while I cut him out.”

“Damn,” was all Spencer could muster for a second. Then, “What’d he look like when you cut him out?”

“He was a mess. He had big welts on his head and his face and a few more on his forearms. I had to explain to him what had happened, of course, but the first thing I got to see was his wild eyes when I cut that end of the blanket open. He was scared shitless…and confused. When the hole was big enough, he began trying to work his own way out of the blanket. He was cursing the whole time, but he was so drunk that his help was making my efforts take longer ’cause I was afraid I was going to stab him with the scissors with all his struggling.

Once I explained what had happened, he was spitting mad and wanted to go after Amanda but he was so drunk that I didn’t  have a problem keeping him corralled in the spare bedroom. Then he starts yelling at her through the walls and, at that, up she jumps and down the hall she comes, yelling back at him on the other side of the locked bedroom door. It was a mess.”

“I’d say so,” Spencer said.

“After about another half hour,” Marjorie continued, “I got Chuck calmed down enough to agree to leave for the night. At first he didn’t want to but then I reminded him she could just sew him up again as soon as he was asleep, so he finally gave in. I called up Juan. I don’t think he was asleep by the sound of his voice, being only one more house away,” she added. “ Anyway, he came over to get Chuck and there was just a little bit more shouting getting him past Amanda in the living room on the way out of the house.”


One comment

  • Anonymous
    March 29, 2013 - 8:21 pm | Permalink

    I’m intrigued……post more!

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