Cigarette in a Chocolate Box: Episode #4 (A Series by Brian Kasaine)
|| Catch up with Episode #3 here.
His heart clutched and released with thuds as his frail legs moved towards the bathroom. The door was ajar. Stepping in, Uncle Sam muffled a groan. His hands shot across his mouth. His heart sunk. His knees weakened even more.
Shards of broken vase, trampled red petals and dirt lay scattered on one end of the floor. In front of him, the marble tiles were marked with a trail of crimson droplets, leading to a corner where Daniel sat, propped against the white-tiled walls, in a trance and visibly shaken. His head was lolled backwards at a weird angle. His face was running with thick sweat. Or snot. Or maybe a mixture of both, along with the tears he had clearly been crying, as visible from his heavy, bloodshot eyes. He held his right wrist close to his bulging chest.
“Jesus Christ! What has happened here?” screamed Uncle Sam.
Daniel lifted his head slowly, and their eyes interlocked; a pair of Uncle Sam’s popped eyes, and the deep-set, red-rimmed bloody eyes of Daniel whose gaze would have freaked out a soldier.
“Hey Sam, what are you doing here,” started Daniel, lifting himself up by leaning heavily on the sink for support. He gritted his teeth in a whisper of a painful moan. His right wrist throbbed and slithered fresh red onto the white sink.
A beautiful flower has been snapped broken.
Uncle Sam remembered the chiller text message from his sister. It had come only an hour after she had called to confide in him about Daniel’s cheating spree.
“Where is my sister? What the fuck happened?” Sam shot at the wobbling Daniel.
Every other of his word came out louder than the one preceding it. He shook, with fear and anger. Mostly at the feral thought that maybe some of the blood on the floor was Sly’s.
Daniel clammed up to Uncle Sam’s questions who was quickly getting more and more animated. In an uncontrollable fit of desperation, he charged at the rising man. His yells clambered out through clattering teeth as a brutal punch flew for Daniel’s left side of the neck.
The neat hook caught the master escort-banger off-guard and threw him off balance. On his way down, his chin hit hard on the sink and his mouth spewed blood, thick and heavy with saliva.
“You son of a bitch! What have you done?”
His bare knuckles rammed Daniel’s jaw as he gaggled more blood in his mouth. Sitted squarely on top of Daniel, who was lying defenseless on the floor, Uncle Sam drove down another fist which Daniel managed to duck in time. The cracking of knuckles against the marble came accompanied by Sam’s maniacal groan.
A surge of strength shot through Daniel’s body, driving on pure adrenaline. He pushed his still tipsy brother-in-law off him and landed a swift kick to his groin as he rose up to make a quick try for the door.
“Fuck you!” Uncle Sam shrieked, as Daniel staggered out of the house into his car.
Evil has a way of catching up with its doers, and my time has come. My slimy palms are gripping the wheel at 10 and 2. I keep pressing hard and releasing until my fingers hurt, and each press pushes fresh blood out of my wrist. My grey jeans are a mess, blood is dripping on my restless laps, from my mouth which drools with blood. The guilt tearing flesh out of my chest makes the pain on my throbbing wrist and mouth underwhelming.
If this is how guilt burns, if this is how it feels to have a woman you love on her way to divorcing your cheating ass, because you pushed her to it, then I should have known better. I should have made the right decisions. My foot pumps heavier on the accelerator and the needle of the speedometer flies. My lower lip feels swollen, because it is swollen. Sam did a number on them, they swell more each second.
A warm tear dives out of my eye as I step on the brake and get thrust forward by inertia. I’ve narrowly missed ramming into the back of a truck. My heart is pounding in my throat after I’ve been impelled forward then thrust backward by the seatbelt. I honk, cursing, dying with guilt.
My phone rings and without looking at the screen I know who it is. Sly. I’ve customized her ringtone on my phone – Westlife’s I’ll Be Loving You Forever which she had dedicated to me on our wedding day. My bleeding right hand fetches the phone, as my left one swings the wheel right and left, dangerously overtaking.
“Babe?” My voice is drowned in tears, its timbre hitting the roof of my Benz. But it’s my daughter on the phone.
“Daddy,” her frail voice crackles, and then she starts to cry.
“Suzie… baby girl, where’s mummy?”
Whimpers and snuffles are all I get from the other end of the line.
“What have you done to mummy? We hate you! We hate you dad!”
I choke on her words, then break into sobs which seem to be fueling the diving speedometer. I’m driving to the Cheater’s Den. I ache to tear the place apart. Maybe burn it down. Maybe my guilt will crinkle up in the flames with it.
“Where’s Shawn? Put your brother on the phone.”
By this time, drivers are hooting furiously at the tail of my vehicle which is dangerously swerving past them.
“Shawn doesn’t want to speak to you, ever!” And the phone beeps dead.
Shit, I’m losing my mind. God, will you please give me a chance to go back into my messed up home to straighten the pictures on the walls? A heavy foot on the gas, and the vehicle spears through the highway, lit by street lights.
When I got home this afternoon from the Den, carrying a vase of flowers to apologise to Sly for being away during my birthday, everything that could go wrong had gone wrong. Well, I guess everything started going wrong the very first time I banged my balls on a moaning office cook.
No one was home, something very unusual. I left the vase on our bathroom window pane for Sly to find as a surprise the next time she walks in there. 15 red roses I’d picked up from a roadside flower vendor. I read somewhere that that’s the number of roses that says “I’m sorry”.
I slumped into a settee, phone pressed to my right ear; ringing my wife. Twice, she hang up on me. I started getting a bad hunch that the devil was somewhere in a vest soaked in sweat, a shovel in his hands, exhuming my skeletons. Two hours later, I heard the gravel in our compound crunch under rolling tyres and I knew Sly was back. Hell had come to place a claim on my head.
“Where were you? And where are the kids?” I asked, after a fuming Sly walked past my open arms which offered an embrace.
“Fuck you!”, she thundered. Her voice gave her up; she was fighting back tears.
“Babe, is everything alright?” I asked in a voice recoiled with utter shock.
She stopped on her tracks, gave a mocking laughter and then turned to face me. “Everything is alright, babe. How can everything not be alright when my hubby is banging the entire world? Oh, it’s a new month. Have you paid the rent for that other house you own? Or will you bang them under bridges when the landlord kicks you out?”
I was tongue-tied at her mentioning of “that other house.” The floor rushed to my face. All the guilt that had never gotten to me now found a way to me. I opened my mouth to speak but disengaged before even beginning.
Five minutes later I was following her all over the house trying to explain myself, as she packed her stuff and those of the kids. Damn, I still had the cheek to say she was getting the wrong end of the stick, that there must be one big misunderstanding.
“Why are you packing the kid’s stuff?”
“Because we are leaving you!” Those words reverberated on the walls of my mind, scarring me badly every time they bounced off.
When I followed her into the bathroom and tried to touch her, she screamed in a jagged voice asking me not to touch her. She reached up with both hands for the vase on the bathroom window and hurled it at me. It must have been the rage that fueled the speed of the airborne vase. I automatically raised my hands over my face to shield, and a deep pain pierced me as the vase broke on my wrists.
In a jiffy of spiked adrenaline, I was squatting, hands pressed against my head, right wrist bleeding profusely. Shards from the glass vase trembled on the floor. She pulled printed photos from her trench and tossed them hard across my face.
The outside façade of the Cheater’s Den was the first thing I noticed. I’d seen the house from that angle a million times before, when I stepped out for a smoke, or a leak. On closer inspection, I saw myself, and then Liz – my sin from last night. Weirdly, the first thought that crossed my mind was that I still had those same boxers on. An overwhelming feeling of guilt and self-loathing washed over me.
And after she had left me in the house with a promise to divorce my ass, a wounded, guilty me lumbered to a corner and my back slid against the wall until I sat, sobbing. And then some hours later Sam had happened. He tore my lip, and if I hadn’t jostled with him and ran out to my car, he’d have probably killed me.
As I dangerously drive on, my head conjures Sly’s teary face 11 years ago when she said “I do.” And then her evenly aligned white teeth smiling down on me after we made love for the first time. And then it’s a playful Sly chasing after me on the sugar-white beach during our honeymoon. Finally, it’s her blood-shot eyes with dark smudges beneath, and her yells as she sends the vase hurtling towards me.
I shut my eyes. Hell fire burning in my skull. As a tear gets squeezed out, a heavy foot squeezes the gas. And then a deafening din. Screams. Cars screeching to an emergency halt behind me. My head is light. My ears are ringing. There’s searing pain in my chest. I can’t move my legs. My head is buried into a noxious air bag that deployed after the crash.
|| Catch up from Episode #1 here.
Cigarette in a Chocolate Box is a four part series by Brian Kasaine that ran every Wednesday in October.