Abandoned. Wife left for her wine tasting and brunch with friends outing. Crippled, discarded and wracked with pain, I have been left to the mercy of animals. They are savage creatures and more intelligent than we realize. We call them our children. Our beautiful children. I struggle to sit up. FUCK. Spine is no longer correctly hooked into the meat. A muscle or a nerve, perhaps both, twist in the knife. The spine collapses, dragging my soul down. So weak. So old. When did this happen?
You know if I fought off criminals or dead lifted 100 pounds over my head, I would be ok with my situation. But all I did was walk down the stairs, spot a kid backpack and stoop over to grab it. As I rightened myself, the Universe viciously wrenched my spine for past crimes.
The sun burns through curtains announcing another turn of the planet. Fuck that shit. I try and to fall back asleep in an awkward, hunchback curl. This is the only way to relieve pressure from the nerve network. Through closed eyes, I feel just enough leftover opiate pain relief to hopefully pass out again...but my mind hates me. Math, bills, mortgage and unnecessary expenditures, it whispers. A moist, necrotic tongue in my ear.
I wish I was math intolerant but give me two numbers and my brain races with the endless, grim possibilities. My sick pay is calculated by corporate robots and the doom timer is always On. I have exponential expenses that keep expanding due to the nature of time. As I lay here useless and broken, the debts earn interest. Sleep is no longer an option. So I think about SPAM. The acronym about my skeleton. Support, Protection, Anchorage and Movement. Today it means: Shit, Pain, Abandoned and Morose. On my nightstand is a glass of water, a phone and a clock. But no damn pills.
The sun glares brighter through the curtains. The world is on fire. I can hear the Universe functioning beyond the bedroom. I need relief.
"Khina! Iskandra!" I bellow.
Nothing. The little one is her own animal but the oldest child is dependable in crisis. "KHHHEEENNNNA!"
After an eternity, I hear tiny feet thumping furiously across the floor.
"What?!" demands Khina, the eldest daughter.
"Yeah! What?!" rudely echoes Iskandra the youngest daughter.
"What?! What do you mean 'What?'" I demand from the window, for they stand behind me. Probably on purpose. Probably grinning at each other.
The doctor blessed me with my old friend oxycodone four days ago. My world should be covered with a narcotic fog. Yet here I lay sober and twisted in agony. Though my past drug crimes were way more severe than a little pill popping madness, the oxycodone bewitches my soul. While no holes weep from my arms, history repeats itself. Heroin is the Darkness, but oxycodone has a vining, flowery grip around my throat.
"Where is Daddy's medicine?" I ask the window calmly.
"Mommy says Khina's in charge" pipes Iskandra in her chirpy, little kid voice.
"Yup" confirms big sister. "I'll make you waffles Daddy! Then you get yogurt, fruit, your vitamin and THEN medicine. I can show you Mommy's note."
"Mmm" I grumble. Helpless amongst beasts.
I have some cards to play, but now is not the time. Painfully, I roll over and struggle to an upright position. A slight groan emits from my mouth which makes them rush over and hug me. Ahhh, there is Light in my world. I stroke their tiny backs, kiss their tiny faces and surrender to their charms.
"Ok" I sigh. "Start the waffles Khina. Mind the toaster metal part-"
"Yeah, yeah" huffs Khina. "I know how to make waffles. You want butter or peanut butter?"
"One of each love. Izzy, be a dear and hand me my phone."
"Here you go!"
"Thanks" I smile as they sprint off. Then I think of how filthy children are. "And wash your damn hands!"
I listen to them argue. Khina has toaster privileges at 8. She orders her sister to get the butter. I hear muted squeaks as they get into a fist fight. Khina has her parent's physical genes and towers over Iskandra. She should be able to pound her tiny sister. But Iskandra is straight up a dirty fighter.
"Owie!" howls Khina after a solid THWAP! from something heavy. Maybe a rice paddle.
This is followed by a furious, whispered debate and Iskandra screeching, "Nooo Khina! Ok sorry!"
I listen for more violence. Shattering glass or bodies getting tossed to the floor means I have to act. But they solve their issues without anymore blows. I call the wife.
"What?!" she answers.
Jesus. Doesn't anyone say, 'Hello' anymore?
"Where are my pills?" I demand.
"Didn't Khina explain?"
I slap my head. Really?
"Yes! Yes they both explained! I guess what I'm asking my dear is, WHAT THE FUCK?!" The scent of toaster waffles fills the air. "I need those pills to move and-"
"Look" begins my wife calmly. This means she is among her friends and will not swear, "I put Khina in charge so you would get a good breakfast. I told them to make sure you eat first."
"Wait. You put a 8 and 6 year old in charge of my painkillers?" I ask incredulously. "Are you insane woman? I don't want them fucking with-"
"Relax. They know not to touch our medicine. And I offered Baskin Robbins if they could open the bottle. They couldn't. And Khina is more responsible than you...hell, you're the fourth most responsible person in the family. Barely above Handsome Bob."
"Nnrooow" acknowledges Handsome Bob rubbing his ugly, notched ear against my leg.
The face Handsome Bob uses to beg or appear cute is appalling. A snaggle-toothed sneer with slitted, crusty eyes. The cat is not allowed in our bedroom yet here is Bob. Probably a door left open by children. But what can I do? Hell, I'm only #4 on the totem pole. Not my job.
"Yes Handsome Bob" acknowledges my wife in her polite-with-friend's tone. "He does stuff around the house. Like he kill pests."
I pick up the ugly, old cat and set his puckered butthole on the wife's pillow. Handsome Bob does a few spins and settles down to drool and dream.
"Well fuck you too!" I say into the phone.
"Maybe later" the wife says sweetly, "if you shower." She hangs up without saying Goodbye.
Nice manners babe, I think while scratching Ugly Bob's gremlin chin.
The hobble down the stairs is brutal. But pills are somewhere down there. I have to shit, but I'm waiting for pain relief before trying to sit on a toilet. Whatever I did to my spine makes me stoop over like Atlas with the sky crushing him. I just look more withered and unsexy than the Titan. I watch my feet as I shuffle forward.
"I'm going to eat on the couch" I announce gasping as I navigate the last step.
"But Daddy" says Khina, our little rule follower, "no eating on the couch remember?"
"It's ok Kheen" chirps Iskandra who learned long ago to just do whatever you want and ask permission later. "We can make Daddy a tray!"
"Yeah ok!" agrees Khina.
I collapse on the couch and curse this world. A world engineered for elves. Every toilet I piss in, every sink I brush my teeth over and every damn desk I have ever been chained to was crafted for lesser men. Well, shorter men. Elves.
"Daddy. Do you want coffee?" asks Khina.
"Who made it?" I demand suspiciously. Khina makes good coffee because she adheres to instructions. Simple instructions. Add one extra cup of water for however many scoops of coffee.
"Mommy made it" pipes in Iskandra. "So it sucks."
"Shut up Izzy!" barks Khina. "I'm in charge here! We made you ice water-"
"I made it!" shrieks Iskandra popping up in my view with a notebook and crayon. "Can I take your order, sir? We have breakfast! I suggest the Special."
"Yeah sure. The Special sounds good" I sigh trying to shift away the pain. "Does whiskey come with the Special?"
"Let me check!" smiles Iskandra pretending to consult a menu. "Nope! Just coffee and water. So just the Special?"
"Ok!" says Khina. "One waffle with butter, one with peanut butter, pineapple yogurt and fresh strawberries coming up!"
"Mahalo. Wait what? Pineapple? I want strawberry yogurt."
"We ate it Daddy. You slept too long. Soooory! But pineapple yogurt has all the good gut bugs your intestine needs to be healthy!" recites Khina echoing my words.
I sip the coffee. It's watery and disgusting. I eat breakfast while they carefully watch me. I know they have their orders, so I shovel it down.
"Mmm. Thanks guys."
They congratulate each other and clear my dishes. Then my daily vitamin and pain meds appear. But something is wrong. This is not my pill canister. It's one of my wife's old ones. I open the it and find one pill. The motherfucking doctor directed dosage. Goddamnit to fucking hell-
"How was it Daddy?" inquires Khina smiling.
"Were you satisfied sir?" beams Iskandra. "Because if not, we have a money back guarantee!"
"Amazing" I smile. I hug them as I chew my lonely pill.
Well this isn't so bad. Let the wife have her time off. She deserves a break. I go take a shit and shower. I brush my teeth and feel their electric toothbrushes to see if they brushed. They did. Good ol' Khina. Putting her in charge was wise. Afterwards, I load up some stolen TV shows to watch as the opiate rights my wrongs. The pill allows me to be mobile with far less bitching. I feel good. Well, kinda good.
The wife is adhering to prescription dosages. So in four hours I will get another pill. She probably made Khina hold off that pill until after lunch. They are not allowed to use the stove, so I'm guessing sandwiches. Hmm. Lunch is a long ways away.
"Can we go skate?" asks Iskandra. She has pads on and holds her skateboard with way too many Roxy stickers.
Opiates are a funny bird. On one hand, they make you lazy and content. Like to the point of death for many of us flower slaves. A portal straight to Hell opens beneath the feet of all who abuse The Power. But if you are new to the drug or not using insane amounts, sparks of inspiration can appear. Just like my morning oxycodone POP! It fuels my sense of duty to my children. Sure getting them outside so I can watch TV is grand, but so is numerical literacy and reading comprehension.
"But what about your homework? Tomorrow's school and I haven't signed your planners."
They both groan but ditch their pads and skateboards. They know my love of order. If they operate within these parameters, they get away with so much more. I am much easier to manipulate than their mom. So they dutifully get their backpacks and spread out their assignments.
While they exercise their brains, I drag myself upstairs. My wife took my pills with her. Clever girl. Searching our bedroom is useless. But I can easily guess where my kids would hide stuff. They are not practiced at deceit yet.
It is Spring. The myna birds in the mango trees shriek. A female Jackson chameleon drops her babies from the tree branches. The fall splits open the slimy, soft eggs. Dozens of fully formed reptiles that resemble tiny, green triceratops emerge. Slowly and awkwardly, they struggle for cover. If a myna bird sees one, it knows more are nearby. The bird will call the mob. The feast begins.
Much like baby sea turtles dodging birds and crabs, there is a taint of cosmic injustice here. While their sheer numbers insure the DNA will pass on, one cannot help but to pity the quarter-sized chameleons. Unlike the narrators on animal documentaries, my children directly interfere with Nature.
One day, my wife found a Jackson chameleon feebly making it's way across the hallway. Not a reptile fan, I was called in to investigate. A hatchling. We looked in the room and saw two more crawling up the curtains. In the spider plant above the art desk, I counted eight carefully camouflage critters staring back at me with their swiveling eyes. That was when I discovered the Secret Drawer. It holds things like perfect cowry shells, Japanese coins and tiny toys from gumball machines. It is where they hoard their treasure. That day it contained a nest of papaya leaves, a Naruto handkerchief bed, a sushi plate used as a water bowl and dozens of Jackson chameleon hatchlings.
I open the drawer. No chameleons. Just stickers, shells, half a Mars bar, a tiny Gumby doll and another pill canister. I remover my pill, replace it with an ibuprofen. In the bathroom, I crush the pill and rail it. The world grows soft as pain relief travels from prescribed dosage straight to euphoria.
We finish homework. But because I rule with an iron-fist, I give them some aquarium journals and another assignment. Discuss why planted and reef tanks solve filtration problems. This allows me to sneak a cigarette before doing the dishes. After I wash the huge breakfast mess, I sit through their presentations and answer questions. Then I move the truck, drag out the skate ramp and let them burn off some energy.
They listen to Linkin Park while they skate. The music makes me realize how quickly the planet spins. Years are stretching over us. Gone are the days of Baby Beluga or the Hokey Pokey. The wife and I grow long in the tooth while our planet maintains a steady course through the cosmic dust. Linkin Park is the new world order. But don't blame me. The wife totally blew it when the kids discovered them one night while watching a music awards show.
"Hah!" the wife gloated. "White rappers! Like a STD!"
"What's a STD Mommy?" asked Iskandra.
"Never mind" corrected the wife as I glared at her. "But this song sucks Izzy. It's LAME!"
And ever since then, the wife and I suffer. The music seems to inspire them to be more reckless when they skate but I suppose that is what the pads are for. I position myself on the couch where I can keep on eye on them or yell if needed.
Soon it will be lunch and I will have to pretend to take the fake pill. Real pills are at least a couple hours away as the wife takes her sweet time on her day's off. What should I do? I have a stack of tax documents I am supposed to be going through. There are emails from the wife about insurance questions. I should really look for a better job as my current one will probably fire my indolent ass soon. You can't show up for work three days a week, late, leave early and collect full time pay and benefits. I know, I've tried. I should be proactive this time and start a job search. I look at the clock. 11:30am. Well, lunch is soon. Maybe after lunch I'll do some work. I stretch out and smile. I am a liar. I'm just gonna sit here. Waiting for pills.