I'll Be Coming Home
I followed Sam up the stairs onto the front porch of my old home in Fuller Park. It felt so strange to be back here. The rickety chairs that always gave me splinters in my thighs still remained where they'd always been, and the wood panels that covered the outside of the house were still slowly rotting away. Sam unlocked the front door and let me inside, flicking on the light.
The interior certainly looked much nicer than outside. The floor that once been completely covered in a blanket of discarded bottles, cans and potato chip packets, was finally clear, showing the floorboards that had been hidden for so long. The couch was clean, free from all the spilled bongwater that had stained it back when the boys used to rage up. The cigarette tray upon the coffee table was back to a spotless silver, and hadn't appeared to have been used for awhile.
"He's upstairs." Sam said, gesturing toward the stairs that led to the second floor. "If you wanna go say Hi."
I nodded, and she made her way into the kitchen, leaving me to make my way upstairs alone. My heart began to thump as I approached the door to my old bedroom, my hand shaking slightly as I reached for the handle. I took a deep breath, trying to collect myself, and turned it, slowly opening the door.
There he lay, sound asleep, curled up on his side. Jack. His long dark hair had fallen in his face, and I slowly sat down on the edge of the bed, brushing it back. His Hazel-grey eyes fluttered open, widening as his expression became puzzled at the sight of me. He slowly eased himself upright, propping himself up against the headboard.
Even by the dim light of the bedside lamp, I could see the dark shadows under Jack's eyes, which were slightly more sunken in than the last time I'd seen him. His hair was greasy and matted from sleep. Stubble covered his jaw and chin, his cheeks a little more hollow than they used to be. His lips chapped and slightly flaking. He was a mess, and as sound asleep as he had been when I had entered the room, he looked as if he hadn't slept in days.
"Hi." he breathed.
"I'm surprised to see you."
"I'm surprised I'm even here." I admitted.
"Why?" he asked. "Why are you here?"
"Sam told me what happened..." I explained, my eyes cast down, playing with the red wool bracelet Brian had given me as I spoke. "I thought I should come back and make sure you were okay."
He nodded. "That's fair."
"Are you okay?" I asked. "I mean, stupid question but-"
"I've been better." he cut me off. "But still kicking."
"I hate to say I told you so, but-"
"Then don't." he interrupted. "Honestly, I've heard it enough from Sam, my mother, my sisters, fucking doctors, nurses..."
"They meant well."
"I know that." he sighed. "But I don't need to be reminded of the mistakes I've made, not every single fucking week."
"Mistakes that almost cost you your life."
"I acknowledge that..." he frowned, biting the inside of his cheek; something he'd always done when he was called out, or in a shitty mood. “Luckily, I'm alive, but I have to deal with what it’s done to me. I’ve been experiencing everything; depression, anxiety, stress, migraines, you name it."
I felt for him, genuinely. As much as he had hurt me, there had once been a time when I had loved him more than anything. My attempts to steer him in the right direction, away from the excessive drug use had failed. But it ached me to know that the big slap in the face that had set him straight had been an overdose. An overdose that had almost killed him, and rendered him bed-ridden.
"The doctors do say that, with time, I'll be able to function on my own again." he said. "But, I'll never be quite the same, I'm on blood pressure meds for the rest of my life, and they've been saying I may need to start taking anti-depressants soon if my mental state doesn't improve..."
"Your mental state?" I pried, remembering Jack had a history of feeling suicidal.
"Not like that, after overdosing and staring death right in the face, I know now that I don't want to die." he reassured me. "But with the fevers, the fluctuations in my blood pressure, my inability to do anything for myself without my body freaking out, it's completely fucked with my head." he explained. "I can't get out of bed, I struggle to feed myself, I just feel completely fucking useless, and that leads to a panic attack."
I gave him a small frown in sympathy, reaching for his hand and squeezing it. "I've been there, maybe not in the exact same sense, but it does get better."
"That's just it, it's not going to, not for me, I fucked up, and now I have to worry about a fucking heart-murmur for the rest of my life." he replied. "I can't scream anymore, puts too much strain on my body. I had to quit Decapitated Orphans, Reavan's their Vocalist now."
"I'm sorry..." I sympathized. "I know how much that band meant to you."
"Yeah, and they're touring with Cattle Decapitation soon." he scoffed. "Of course my favourite fucking metal band notices mine right after I had to fucking quit."
"That fucking blows..." I sighed.
"It's fucking bullshit." he grumbled. "My whole fucking life's just fucking fallen apart."
Our conversation was interrupted when Sam knocked on the door.
"Hey, you guys playing nice?" she asked, wearily.
"Thank fuck." she sighed in relief, entering the room with a tray of food in her hands. "It's time to eat."
"Time to dose, more like." Jack groaned, leaning forward to take it from her. "They fucking scold you about taking drugs, and then pump more into your system, Logic."
"Legal drugs." I reminded him. "Designed to help you, not screw you up."
"She's right." Sam added. "So take your pills, and quit bitching." she ordered, shaking two small orange pill bottles at him.
He scowled as he took them from her, washing them down with the glass of water she offered.
She left the room, and he slowly began to nibble at his food. It was strange to see him eating so healthy; Green beans, carrot sticks, a small bowl of spinach to dip them in, and one ripe banana. The Jack I remembered survived solely on a diet of oily fries, pizza, and anything he could add cheese, and unhealthy amount of salt into. He had been the one to introduce me to making cheesy meat pies, loaded with a ridiculous amount of salt. It was a diabetes extravaganza, but it tasted so damn good.
Jokes aside, I could see now, clear as day, what Jack had meant about his frustration at not being able to function properly. Every time he reached for a carrot stick, or took a sip of water, his hands trembled. He chewed slowly, and I noticed him pausing every so often to take a deep breath.
I'd had that same problem several months ago, when my diet had consisted solely of Mi Goreng noodles and Coffee, as I was too depressed to make anything else. I became malnourished, and it had eventually taken its toll on my body, affecting my ability to breathe properly. Thankfully, I'd slowly recovered thanks to Brian's cooking, and it was a thing of the past.
"Fuck!" Jack cursed, as the glass of water slipped from his hands and spilled on the duvet. "Fucking hopeless!"
"It's okay." I said, getting up from the bed. "I'll go find the spare duvet."
"Look." I interrupted him, to which he looked slightly shocked. "Despite what happened between us, I chose to come back and help out." I glared at him. "Let me."
He held my gaze for a few moments, and then nodded.
I left the room, going out to the linen cupboard and pulling the spare duvet from the bottom shelf, and a dry cover from the shelf above it. At least nothing had changed about the way things got stored around here. As I closed the cupboard, I heard the familiar intro of Goin' Down by The Pretty Reckless blaring from my phone, which I'd left in my bag on the kitchen counter.
"Shit!" I cursed, trying to balance the bulky duvet under my arm as I jogged downstairs, rushing to dig my phone out of my bag.
"Let me get it." Sam said, taking the duvet from me and heading back upstairs.
I grabbed my phone out of my bag and answered it;
"Hey..." Matt's husky voice greeted me on the other end. "You get there safely?"
"Yeah, I'm alright."
"Glad to hear it." he replied. "So uh... how'd the reunion go?"
"Weird." I admitted. "But not as bad as I thought it would."
"Is he still an asshole?" he chuckled.
"He's definitely still got a mouth on him." I giggled. "How's Brian?"
"How do you think?" I could basically hear the frown on his face. "He's been holed up in his bunk all night since you left."
"Put him on the phone?" I asked, walking over to the couch and sitting down.
"I would, but he's snoring like a motherfucker, and you know what Gates is like when you disturb his beauty sleep."
"Well when he wakes up, tell him I love him." I requested. "And that I'm not gone forever, just a little while."
"I will." he replied. "And Ruby?"
"One fucking slip up, and I'm not gonna hesitate to come down there and beat that asshole to a bloody pulp." he warned. "You stand your ground, and don't let him walk all over you, you hear me?"
"Glad to hear it." he said. "Goodnight, take care."
"I will, goodnight Matty." I replied, and pressed the "End Call" button.
It came as no surprise to me that Brian wasn't taking my departure well. With the way I'd left last time, I couldn't really blame him. But from what I recalled of the conversation I'd had with Matt Tuck while in Vegas, I just hoped Brian wouldn't sink too low in my absence.
He'd grown up so much over the past several months, the last thing I wanted was to see him revert back to the way he'd been. Drinking himself into a complete stupor, taking drugs to pass the time as they travelled between city to city. Being an arrogant asshole and a complete Diva. Warped Tour wasn't over for another week, but a lot could happen in one week.
I tapped the message icon on my phone screen, and typed out a short, but sweet text for him to wake up to;
Got there safely, and I promise you, I will be back
Hang in there, Baby
I love you xx
Right. Lemme stress, I'm not a friggin doctor, some of the medical deets regarding Jack's condition may not be entirely accurate. I did a little research but it's a lot to take in. So, if anything is off, don't blast me. I'm trying, I'm not good with that shit.
Anyway. Yes. Update.
I say it every time, but some comments would be really, really appreciated
Please, this site is like, dead these days, let me know you still care...
Until next time xx