Tears warm and heavy slid down my face streaking my heavy black eye liner into pyramidal dilutions of what was a charred and caked water line mask. That thick mucus that accompanies every crying session, yeah that was well formed in the back of my throat. The brick wall that was in front of me blurred into a solid baseball diamond colored mass with each blink.
My fucking dress was ruined. I had spilled my cranberry red cocktail down the front of myself like a fucking savant when I fell forward onto the green marble bar which some leather covered asshole had so graciously ushered me into.
I looked down at my feet; veiny and pallid. Viscous snot dribbled down over my lips and then to the shiny black asphalt. Really, my private encounter with the rock hard bar hadn’t bothered me that much. It was the phone call that I received once I made my way outside that had jilted me into my blubbering state.
My phone had rung with the clarity of an AM radio station.
-Guess what just happened to me?
-I have to tell you something, like right now.
My brother sighed into the receiver, sending static pinging and ringing through my ear with the gust of a wildfire. I swallowed hard, biting the inside of my cheek. In the course of my family history, I have become accustomed to cell phone calls that begin with a foreboding sense of disaster. That does not make each new one any more expected or welcomed.
-Okay, go ahead then. Just cavalier your way through this conversation.
My brother should have laughed. Instead, he cleared his throat. I could practically see his nostrils flare. Oh dear mother of fucking Jesus.
-You know how last night I went with Tom and that other kid I introduced you to the other night and we were gone even when you came back home?
-Well we didn’t get back till like eight in the fucking morning.
-Uh huh. What’s new?
-Fuck Violet! Just listen.
-Okay, calm the hell down.
-We were out looking for Caleb.
At this point, I sat down on the curb, curling my legs up to my chin when really, my legs were too long and my dress was really too short to be doing so.
-Why were you looking for Caleb? Wasn’t he supposed to be at those people’s house you were going to last night? I talked to him right before you guys left.
-Yeah, well um no. I mean he was supposed to be there. But he wasn’t.
-Did you try to call him?
-Yeah we did and some girl answered his phone. Said he gave it to her along with a letter that was addressed to you.
-What the fuck Christopher! Why are you just telling me now?
-To be honest, I really thought we would have found him by now. But he obviously was going through something, I mean I don’t want to scare-
-What do you mean obviously, like I was supposed to know and do something and I didn’t?
I was digging my heel into my own right palm at this point.
-No, I just mean that he could of done something. I’m sure he didn’t but we still haven’t found him yet.
-He’s probably fucking dead in a motel somewhere.
-Why do you have to be that way? We’ll find him, he’s probably fine.
He didn’t believe his own words. I could tell because he was using that saccharine sweet false voice of reassurance that was as transparent as the sliding glass door of our old house that my mother kept obsessively clean. Our mother.
-No, you didn’t hear him the other night. He’s unbalanced. I don’t know why I let myself ever sleep with him.
My words smelled like bile as soon as I heard them.
-It’s not your fucking fault.
I tried softening what I was saying to match my real and unsettling visions of Caleb lying delicate and dead somewhere, his last thought being of that night that meant far more to him that it had to me. But I had loved him. Just not as much as he loved me.
-He just seemed so sad you know? I liked that. God, I’m disgusting.
-This isn’t about you right now. I don’t wanna have to call his parents. Do you understand Violet?
My brother had never sound so self-assured. He was confident in a way that I imagined drill sergeants to be; belligerent and subdued. He sounded like my father. Our father.
-Yes I get it. I get it.
-Where are you right now?
I didn’t want him to know.
-It doesn’t matter, I’ll be back to the apartment in a couple of hours. I need some food.
I hung up without saying goodbye, standing up to feel the lingering affects of the alcohol in my brain. I pretended that I could feel the combination of whiskey and Caleb’s blood sloshing up inside my head. I trekked my way over to the alley and kicked the wall a few times. I had seen so many angst/grief ridden movie scenes where the main character melodramatically takes out their frustrations on an inanimate and often unmovable object. That was my moment.