Welcome to the Spot Writers segment for this week. This week’s contribution comes from Deborah Dera. The prompt for the past few weeks has been to choose an item and write about why your character stole it. Deborah’s piece morphed a bit from the prompt, and is in no way, shape, or form a true story.
Next week’s prompt will come from RC Bonitz, author of A LITTLE BIT OF BLACKMAIL, A LITTLE BIT OF BABY, and A BLANKET FOR HER HEART.
I knew there wasn’t much I could do about it, but I always convinced myself I had to try – again, and again, and again. The private conversations worked for a couple of days, resulting in the sudden disappearance of his secret stash and several hours of lucidity. Family interventions resulted in tears, promises, and – at most – two or three weeks of cleanliness. Getting picked up for possession should have resulted in about a month of sobriety, but it didn’t. There were too many suppliers in the prison.
When Rex was up for release, my mom asked if I’d take him in. He’s always looked up to you, she said. He’ll listen to you. You’re a great role model.
And I believed her. For some reason, I really believed her. I convinced myself I could rehabilitate my baby brother; make him see the right path.
For a little while, it seemed to be working. Rex lost his license, so I was driving him to work each day. Most nights, after work, I’d drop him off at his meetings – a different flavor for each night of the week. He started drawing again and spent some of his spare time helping me with lawn upkeep and chores around the house. He seemed happy.
Then – out of the blue – he just wasn’t. He’d sulk when I dropped him off at meetings. At night, he’d shut himself in his room. It got to the point where I wasn’t even sure he was consuming more than coffee each day.
Maybe he needs a really good inpatient program, my husband suggested. I can talk to him.
I didn’t want to hear it or believe it. I didn’t want it to be real. Things had been going so well and all I wanted was for my baby brother to be whole again.
So that’s why I did it, really. I had a good reason.
It was the night I went to pick Rex up from a meeting and found he wasn’t there. He was always waiting outside promptly at 7:15pm. There were always stragglers inside, socializing, but he never wanted to participate. After waiting for 10 minutes, I put the car in park and headed inside. I pulled a tall, lanky woman aside and asked if she knew where Rex was.
Rex? Rex hasn’t been to a meeting here in… oh… 3 weeks or so.
My heart sank. I drove aimlessly around the neighborhood that night, trying to remember where some of his old haunts were. My stomach knotted when I spotted him across the dark school playground, huddled near the slide with two other guys. I circled the block and pulled up slowly near the playground gate. I rolled the window down enough for him to see who it was and parked my car at the curb. I waited.
Rex had his back to me but looked around as the others noticed me. I watched as he made some sort of exchange with the guy to his left, then shaking hands with the guy to his right. He turned towards me, head low and hands shoved deep into his pockets. He opened the passenger door and slid in nimbly. He seemed sober.
Hey, sis! I remember the cheer in his voice; his happy-go-lucky attitude. He really didn’t know what was wrong with the situation.
I took a breath. I don’t know what was going on there, and I don’t really want to know. What I do know is that you broke the terms of our agreement. So when we get home, you can pack your shit and get out of my house.
Rex looked stunned. No, sis, no. You don’t understand. I’m totally clean. Totally. I just… I have to pay a few people. I owe these guys some money and…
He trailed off, realizing how ridiculous it sounded, telling me he’d shifted from user to dealer. My heart broke into a thousand pieces.
At least… can I at least have until morning? I need to pack up and make some calls in the morning. Just until morning?
I nodded my agreement. I was angry, but not completely cold-hearted.
We parted ways as soon as we got out of the car. I didn’t want to look at him. I felt betrayed. I went into my room and cried until my husband came in. He listened and didn’t judge, and then suggested I talk to my brother to find out if he was in real trouble. If for no other reason than to make sure we weren’t going to find trouble.
An hour later, I crept down the basement stairs and softly spoke his name. No answer. I gently knocked on the makeshift door, but still no answer. I pushed the door open, carefully and quietly, and flipped the switch inside. Rex wasn’t there.
I’ll never forget what I did see, though. Dozens and dozens of dime-sized baggies. Pills, powders – spread around his room. My brother really had shifted from a user to a dealer and I stood, stunned, as a wave of emotions coursed through my veins. Then I saw it – the syringe – and I realized I was only fooling myself. Neither was great, but knowing he was using and dealing was even worse. Suddenly, holding onto my anger like it was a lifeline, I turned heel. In the basement utility closet I found a 13 gallon garbage bag. I went back to my brother’s room and put every single baggie, box, and related supply into the bag, knotting it tight at the top.
Flipping the light off on my way out, I stopped at the closet and grabbed another bag, dropping the first one inside. I had an irrational fear of the first bag ripping.
I barreled up the stairs and marched past my bewildered husband, straight out the front door and to my car. Peeling out of the driveway, I drove straight past the town dump – too easy. I hopped on the highway and drove for 45 minutes – north – I don’t know why I chose to go north. I chose an exit, at random, and drove around until I found a big box grocery store. At the back of the building, I found the dumps to be about half full – and that’s where I tossed the bag.
When I arrived home, two hours after leaving, I stayed silent. I kissed my husband gently and went straight to bed. The overwhelming anger turned into utter exhaustion, and I was consumed by a deep, dark sleep.
The next morning, Rex was nowhere to be found. When I checked his room, it looked like it had been ransacked, though I suspected he was the only one to blame. He was, very likely, too high to realize what he’d done with his stash, but he remembered me telling him to leave.
I haven’t seen him since.
The Spot Writers- our members:
Catherine A. MacKenzie