(This is an ongoing screenplay published on PirateMTL.com
Part 1 can be read here)
Part 2: Times Change
The sun had barely scrapped the horizon when Alex was jarred awake by the thumping bass of his alarm. He’d always used his favorite songs as alarms, the tunes depending on how the last week had gone. Alex wiped the sleep from his eyes as he sat up in his bed. Outside was painted a pale blue morning sky against puffy grey cotton swabs dragging slowly across the day. The steam rising from the silver or stained yellow ventilation shafts of the neighboring building told him that today would be a cold one. With one motion, he threw his blanket off and stood up from his mattress, at the same time – having completely forgotten that his best friend Reid had stayed over night – tearing the covers off her soft and half naked body as well.
“Hey, I’m freezing here.” she said in a tired, sort of lost voice.
“Sorry, just forgot you were here for a second,” he said with a laugh.
“It’s cold in here”
“You were the one who opened the window,” he laughed as he pulled his shirt over his head.
“Fuck you, ass.”
“Whoa, calm down, bad ass. You can go back to sleep”
She kicked the last of the blanket off and sat up. The rays of the sun through the window made her stretching silhouette appear a beautiful piece of art, cut short by a noise she made that was a cross between a yawn and a snort.
“I know you have your family thing, but can we meet after?” she said as she stood up into her pants and notched them shut. “I mean, if they haven’t worn you down, of course”
Alex smiled but never took his eyes off the floor. “I don’t think so. I’m probably gonna have to stick around to do damage control, and you know how my ma can be.”
“Suit yourself.” She always got dressed faster than he ever could, and was already throwing her coat on.
“I’ll see ya later, champ.”
“Reid,” He called to her as she reached for the door knob to leave.
“Yes my tall, dark loon?”
He laughed as he always did when she referred to his tangential way of thinking. Calling him crazy had turned out to be a great way to get a conversation going when they first met.
“Thank you. You’re always here for me. I appreciate it,” he said faintly.
“No problem Alex. I like spending time with you.”
She smiled as she pulled her scarf over her vibrant pink hair and left the apartment, leaving him with nothing but his thoughts and silence. Alex had a very hard to measure sense of humor. Sometimes he could be the sweetest soul you’d ever met; then, like the toss of a coin, he’d be more interested in laughing at your misfortunes. He had a tendency to make awkward and cutting japes that would stick in your mind for far too long without realizing it.
A warm shower always did him a world of good to clear his thoughts and problems. Wiping the steam from his shower off the bathroom mirror, he looked hard into his green and gold eyes. Before he moved to his studio crib, he had been worried about leaving his mom alone. The family home was always too big for one person. The five bedrooms, two living rooms, double dinning area and finished basement were really made for family life. After his brother and sister took flight, he felt he had a responsibility to keep his mother as far from her depression and her daily bottle as he possibly could, She’d jokingly call it “her medicine” – it certainly never cured anything. He thought about it begrudgingly as he finished shaving. Many late evenings had been spent on fights and screaming matches in the Rockwood estate. It was always up to him to keep his mother grounded. To have lost her husband at the young age of forty seven was a hard pill to swallow, and he’d always understood that.
Alex knew he would be arriving much earlier than his brother and sister, so he pulled his maroon junker of a car over three blocks down from the house. He loved to surprise the gang. The cold made quick icicles of his hands and had him thoroughly regretting not wearing more padding, even for the short walk home. He grabbed the door and slipped his key through the handle. With a twist and a heavy THUNK the door swung open into the entrance. Immediately to his right was the doorway to the sitting room. Its pale sofas and short coffee table made it a great spot for entertaining mature (and often chatty) guests. As it didn’t have his video games, or any other compelling reason for him to visit it, Alex had never once sat in that room.
“Alex, honey, is that you?” he heard his mom call from the kitchen.
“Yeah mom, just got in.”
He walked in, past the staircase up to the family bedrooms and into the kitchen. His mother was in her cooking apparel but was seated at the dining room table with a book in one hand and a cigarette in the other.
“Hey baby!” she said as she put down the items and moved to greet him with a hug. During the embrace Alex could smell the soap his mother had used and as always, it rushed him back to every time he needed his mom growing up and she had been right there for him. He then picked up the sent of the baking she had been doing.
“Something smells good, What are we having?” Alex said, realizing that he hadn’t eaten yet and was starting to feel the effects.
“I made some muffins and cookies for the church bake sale, but you and I are having french toast,” she said. As she talked she opened the toaster oven with the breakfast warming inside and served it on two plates, one for each of them. With big eyes and a wet mouth, Alex pounced on the meal, thanking his mom with a mouth full of bacon and egg bread. Once he finished his plate, his mom rushed him out of the kitchen so she could start the decorating and preparing of the baked goods. Immediately, Alex went to his old room, every stair creaking and every creak bringing him back to his childhood here.
“Get off the damn banister,” his dad would shout as he came blindingly fast down the wooden slope.
“Sorry Dad,” he’d said, hanging his head, knowing full well that it would happen again, and that his father would drop down to eye level with little Alex to ensure he paid attention.
“The world is a tough place and sometimes it’ll seem like it’s trying to kill you. The last thing I need is you helping it out, kiddo.” He always had a fear of death, as if it stalked him at every turn. Thinking about it now, Alex’s father had used the threat of death as a good reason to circumvent most childlike wonder and games. It always felt like he was trying to raise them faster than they were growing. Alex tried to analyze his father during a school project where he had to tell a story about their family from an objective stand point; he found found his father to be very closed off for someone that was always there for them.
Inside Alex’s room were all the posters, toys and bedding he had left behind when he moved, and for the tiniest second he felt like a kid again. He picked up his best action figure, a replica from his favorite childhood show about a cop who travels through time to “Stop injustice before it re-happens,” (or something like that – he couldn’t remember the awful, cheesy tag line,) The smile that evoked him reminded him that awful, cheesy television was a creative kid’s bread and butter. After reliving these childhood memories, he decided to take it further and have a bowl of cereal while sitting on the living room floor watching some shows.
He was barely halfway through an old re-run when he heard Tisha’s car door screech open and wail shut. The thought of Tisha still driving that hunk of crap made him almost laugh out loud, Then he heard Barry’s voice and his blood ran cold. Last time he saw Barry, they had gotten into a serious argument, Barry wanted to put their mother in a hospital for alcoholics while Alex was fine with keeping her well himself and caring for her at home while weaning her from the bottle over time. Alex had almost forgotten how mad that made him, yet as he heard the door knob turn he took a deep breath and pushed out the bad thoughts. He reminded himself that today is the day they really get to know their Dad.
Written by: AJ Rheault