The year is 1988. I'm yet a toddler, still unable to speak words though I remember those spoken to me on this day. It was an unremarkable day, in my life anyway. That is, until the moment she yanked my arm and said "Let's go!" I cannot tell you for certain the events of this day. I do, however, remember as a child huddled in the floor of an old car how I felt. The moment was terrifying. I was unsure what the yelling and cursing amongst me was about, but I knew that I should be scared. This was the day, the very last day that I would see my father as a child.
She drove me to a bar, a place where I knew she went to drink. Back then, there was no car seats for children in vehicles. I sat in the floor. She was angry, no, furious, over something. She leaves me in the car and goes into the bar yelling, but who was she yelling at? Oh, now I see, it's my dad. But why? Why would she yell at him? It's over too soon for me to understand. I'm sitting behind her seat, crying because I am scared. She turns around to drive in reverse, sees me in tears, and says "You're never seeing him again that piece of shit!" I cry more tears. Her words sting like a million bees all at once. I'm sad to see him go.
The year is 1991. My sister, whom watched over me while she was gone, leaves home this year. She graduated from high school and high-taled it out of town. Who could blame her? I cried so many times to go with her, but I knew that I couldn't. This is the year I became familiar with drugs. Did I use them at such a young age? No, but everyone who lived around me did. Once my sister left for college, my older brothers took over watching me while my mother was out. She was "out" quite a lot. Either at a bar, drinking, or out of her mind on whatever substance was available. I have three brothers. The older two would take me on drives in my mothers old Ford pickup. I sat in the middle while they passed their white powder between themselves getting high. I was just happy to be with them. I didn't know they were slowly killing themselves. It became my job to empty his pockets out at the end of the day. It was like a rainbow inside. Red pills, green and white pills, powdery pills. I never knew when I would find every color in the Crayola box.
One evening he came home. His pockets were particularly full this night. Something was not quite right. Was he angry? No, that wasn't it. After pocket cleaning, he sat at the kitchen table eating smashed cornbread in milk. It was his favorite. The tranquility soon faded and became replaced with yelling. She yelled, he yelled, they both yelled some more. Happening so fast that I couldn't comprehend the actions around me, I was in the truck racing across the bridge and down the road before I understood what it was all about. Something wasn't right. I was scared.
We arrived at her boyfriend's home. She called him. No answer. The next few hours are a blur. I'm not sure how I returned, but I was back home. There were lights everywhere. Screaming. What had happened? I was crying. Someone was holding me. I looked through the window of the door. There was red everywhere. A gun. I saw a gun. He was there, only it wasn't him. His face was missing, or not missing, just splattered on the wall. Everything was black. Was it day? Night? I'm not sure.
The funeral was closed-casket. There was a photo of him in a white button down shirt. He was smiling, happy even. His death was the first I experienced related to drugs, heroin I believe. Those smiles slowly faded away and were replaced with glassy eyes and empty stares. He became a shell of the once vibrant person his life had begun to blossom into. Replaced, instead, with a closed box too gruesome for grievers to view, and pieces of skull embedded in walls in the home we returned to. No amount of scrubbing could ever wash away those stains on one's memory. They're permanent, there for all the days of my life.