Hey, guys! So Chapters Two and Three of Triple Distilled Heartache are below. These should be fairly shorter than Chapter One. Also, there is some strong language in the chapters ahead, so watch out. I hope you guys enjoy! Comments are always welcome. Neophytepunk, over and out!
It took a while to find two pills that weren’t soaked in perfume or lying in pieces of broken glass, but Alma found two of them on the bed right where Manny had been sitting. Momma kept yelling out Manny’s name until the pills made her sleep.
“Sleep now, Momma,” hushed Alma, running a hand through Momma’s matted hair. “Just sleep.”
“Mijo,” cried Momma drowsily.
“I know, Momma. Solo trata de dormir. Sleep.”
“Mija, you have to cry.”
“Alma…” Momma opened her eyes wide. “Dime…tell me what you see.”
“Momma,” she looked at the doorway and saw Manny hovering there, biting at his thumb. “Momma, I see Ma–”
But Momma was already breathing heavy, eyes closed. Alma kissed her forehead and walked out into the hallway. She stopped in front of the hallway bathroom and covered her mouth before sound could escape it. It was like a wave. A wave so strong it knocked the air right out of her. She leaned her forehead on the cool bathroom door and gasped for air.
“Okay. Relax. Okay.” She fought every feeling wanting to rise up, closing her eyes against it. “You’re fine.” She felt him hovering next to him. She opened her eyes and grimaced at him. “I hate you.”
“You love me, Alma.”
She pushed herself off the bathroom door and walked past him to her room. “I hate you! Don’t you see what you’ve done to our mother? She is losing her shit because of you.”
“No, she’s grieving,” said Manny seriously. “You are the one losing her shit. You have to cry, Alma.”
“Fuck you,” she spat out, stumbling over herself as she kicked her boots off. Sinking into bed, she wrapped the heavy covers around her again. The wave kept dragging her down, tumbling her around as every emotion swipe above her. Manny sat at the end of the bed, biting his thumb. “I’m not gonna cry. Not over you. And get the fuck off my bed.”
“Didn’t you get enough of that yesterday? Huh?” Alma hugged the covers and gasped heavy, short breaths. Pressure built inside her head and her heart beat in her ears. “What do you want? For everybody to fucking cry and say ‘Pobrecito, what a horrible fucking life he had! Nobody understood what he was going through. He was all alone!’ Is that what you want?”
“I want you to cry, Alma.”
“Go away, Manny.”
“Desaparecete. Go away!”
“Leave me alone!”
“Then let me go!”
“Then fucking go, Manny,” she sat up and threw a pillow to the end of the bed, but he was pacing by the window now. “I hate you! Te odio! Don’t you get that? I don’t want you here. I hate you!” She curled up into a ball again and felt her eyes sting. She fought with her whole body, trembling, to keep from breaking. Tidal wave or not, she was not going to break. “I’m not gonna to cry.”
“You love me, Alma,” he said apologetically. “You love me…and that’s the problem.”
“I’m not gonna cry.” A few dozen or so tears came out, and she let them. She felt she would explode if she didn’t. “I’m not gonna cry. I’m not gonna cry.” She took quick gulps of air through her mouth now, her nose stuffy and runny. “I’m not gonna cry. I’m not gonna cry.” She opened her eyes and saw Manny lying down next to her. Those same sad eyes. “I’m not gonna cry. I’m not gonna cry.”
“Talk to him,” whispered Manny. “Please, don’t push him away. Let him help you. Talk to him.”
“I hate you,” she said, half-heartedly, on the verge of sobbing now. “I really do.”
He wished he could touch her, hug her. “You love me,” his voice shuddered. “But don’t worry. Talk to him and then maybe you can get what you’re looking for. You can get what you want.”
“I want you back,” said Alma, but Manny was already gone.
There was a knock at the front door.
Alma checked in on Momma. She stirred in bed but still slept.
“You better go answer the door,” he said from behind her.
She closed Momma’s door and walked quietly down the stairs, making sure not to look behind her at the hallway. She went to the right, to the family room, and looked out its large windows. No car.
She slipped past the front door and went to the dining room. From the windows there she could see who it was without having to look through the long, slender windows on either side of the front door. She couldn’t see anybody. Whoever it was was too close to the front door to see. “Fuck.”
She tip-toed to the front door and held her ear against it. The knock came again, making her jump. She leaned back in and heard a lighter flick on.
“You’ve got to be shitting me,” she said, not bothering to hide her voice. Manny stood next to her and gave her a small smile. “How the hell is he suppose to help me?” But Manny was gone again.
The knock came again, only more forceful–a I’m-not-going-away-because-I-heard-you-creeping-behind-the-door knock. Alma sighed and opened the front door.
He stood in the gray shirt Manny had given him for Christmas two years ago. It had some sci-fi show on it that he and Manny geeked out over every Friday night on Netflix. (It was the one about a doctor who travels through space in a phone booth or something.) The bottom of his jeans and the tops of his boots were encased in mud and grass, like he had walked through the woods to get here. Sweat shined from his short black hair and dripped down the side of his temples. His well-built face, like Manny’s, hinted at a black eye and busted lip. The cuts on his cheeks and nose had healed and were almost faded, but there was still some yellow bruising around his stout jaw line and cheek bones.
He lifted his right hand to his mouth to take a puff of the cigarette he held. The top of his hand was also yellowed with red-black scabs over the knuckles.
“What the fuck are you doing here, Kansy?”
“I came to pay my respects,” he said. His green eyes were red and puffy.
“You’re late. Funeral was yesterday.”
“I know. My dad was watching me like a hawk all day. Didn’t let me out. Said it was better if I didn’t go because he didn’t want my ass handed to me again. Didn’t want things to start up if I showed.”
“Well, things got started without your help.”
“I know. My dad told me. Said some people were bitching at Father Domingo because he let Manny into St. Mary’s cemetery. Said you kicked out a few people from the church too.”
“Baseball team showed up…so did the coach. Can you believe that? They can kiss my ass if they thought they were going to stay there.”
“They just wanted to pay their respects, Al.”
“Too little too fucking late, Kansy. How can you say that after what they did to you? To Manny. They don’t know a goddamn thing about respect.”
“You’re right.” Kansy took another long drag. “How’s your Momma?”
“She’s finally asleep. I’m not gonna wake her for you.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it.”
“Invite him in,” said Manny from behind him. “Cauta, please, invite him in.”
She shot him a mean look and shook her head in protest. Kansy glanced back and shivered a bit. When he looked forward, Alma was already closing the door. He stuck his foot out to stop the door and pushed firmly against it with both hands. “Alma, please! I need to talk to someone. I can’t…I can’t stand it anymore. It hurts…my heart. I can’t do this alone anymore. I need to talk to you.”
She closed her eyes and felt Manny pacing behind her. “Isn’t that what the school counselor has those grief meetings for? Go talk to her.”
“Alma, it has to be you.” He controlled his voice from quivering. “You’re the only one who loved him like I did. You’re the only one walking around empty like me.”
The door flew open and Alma roughly pushed him back. Her eyes brimmed with salty pain, but she wasn’t going to break. “Loved him like you did? Fuck you! If you could feel how much my heart aches, you would die right where you stand. It would eat you up from the inside out! And walking around empty like you? Well, fuck you twice because you have no idea what walking around empty feels like!”
“I hurt too, Alma!” Kansy threw the cigarette at her. “You think you’re the only one with a broken heart? Fuck you! You’re not the only one who’s breaking!”
She grabbed him by his shirt and pushed him against the porch railing. A few tears spilled down her cheeks and into her mouth. “You have a broken heart. But me? I buried my soul yesterday! Do you know what it feels like to walk around without a soul? Without your twin?”
Kansy grabbed at the clenched fist on his chest and gently held them.
“No.” He reached to caress her hair and tell her he was here for her, but she pushed him further into the rail.
“It’s a shit feeling, Kansy! Mu soul died, and I couldn’t do a goddamn thing to stop it. Like everything in my life, I tried but it wasn’t enough.”
Kansy pulled her to him, and they swayed gently. She didn’t know why but she put her arms around him too. She let him comfort her. She let herself be comforted and it felt good. It felt less lonesome.
But this would only be a moment. One quick moment then she would have to stop feeling. She had to if she wanted to keeping go. She calmed herself and fought for air and the will to not feel everything.
Kansy looked up at the open door and saw the hallway. He held his breath and looked away quickly, but before he did, he could have sworn he saw brown boots pacing up and down the upstairs hallway.