Here’s the latest, chapter 8 of Master of the Drunken Fist.
It took about half an hour for Mike to find his bearings, but eventually he made his way to a familiar road which took him home. He was surprised about being out for a couple days, and more surprised by the “bloody” hatchet in his car. Looking at it gave him chills. He still wasn’t sure what to make of it all. Was it real? he thought. The answer never seemed clear. At times he thought it was all just a figment of his imagination, yet with evidence staring right at him, he wasn’t so sure. All he knew was that those Sponsers didn’t seem like anything he’d ever heard about in his life.
Pulling into his driveway, he saw Noelle on the front porch. She looked like hell. His staying gone must have hit her hard. He felt that all too familiar feeling of regret and despair just at the sight of her. He had done so wrong by her. To see that she still cared even after his horrible treatment of her made him feel guilty and unworthy. Self loathing, that old friend of his, began to creep up and make itself known.
After parking his car, he slowly walked to Noelle. She had been crying, that much he could see. He walked up and to embrace her and when he got close to her, she stepped back and smacked him as hard as she could across his cheek.
“Don’t you ever do that to me again, do you understand!”
“Fuck Noe, I’m sorry. I really am. I deserve that. Please, please don’t leave me. I need you Noe. I’m so messed up right now. I don’t want you leaving.”
Noelle started to say something but instead threw her arms around him, sobbing, as she held on tightly. Through her tears she said, “I’m not going anywhere Mike. I love you. You need help.” They just stood there for several minutes, holding each other close. He never felt any more comfortable than when he was in her arms. He felt love, security, and peace there. All the things he wanted in life, all right there in Noe’s arms. If he died there, he would die a happy man.
They went inside and Mike went straight to the shower. He was out for a couple days and needed to be cleaned up bad. A nice hot shower was just the thing.
They slept together that night. Mike never wanted to lose all he had with Noelle, being with her reminded him how good he had it. Those strange dreams, or visions, or whatever they were, kept him away from her. He had to try his hardest to stay away from them. Anything that took him away from her had to be bad, and had to be removed from his life.
The next day, he went about trying to patch things up. He was the model boyfriend to Noelle. He cleaned, he cooked, and he waited on her hand and foot. He called his boss at home and begged for his job. He had no real excuse for why he missed…again…and wasn’t sure how his boss would take it. Luckily, he felt bad for Mike and gave him one last opportunity to keep his job with the understanding that one more time, and it was all over, no more chances. Relieved, Mike spent the rest of the day relaxing at home with Noelle, confident in his new resolution to stay away from alcohol, to stay away from what was bringing him away from Noelle.
And for several weeks, Mike stayed away from all alcohol. He stayed away from Gene’s place, even when they guys from work would rib him about it, he would just smile, think of Noelle, and walk the other way. It was fine by him if they said he was whipped, or that Noe wore the pants in his relationship. She was a good woman and he was determined not to screw that up. The only thing that bothered him during that time of sobriety was the hatchet.
How did that thing get in his car? Where did it come from? If the void wasn’t real, then what was it doing in his car? If he had a hallucination about the whole thing, fine, but how did he get a real object that he used in the hallucination in his car? And with that thick, black “blood” on it? He was deeply concerned that maybe he did something horrific while blacked out. His car was pretty far away from anywhere and the possibility of it being something bad scared him.
Driving through town since the incident tended to bring him great anxiety. He figured that at any moment, the police were going to pull him over for murder or something crazy like that and he wouldn’t have any idea about it except this black-bloodied hatchet. It scared him immensely. He heard of people getting so wasted on drugs, like those nasty bath salts, that they literally were out of their minds and did things they never could remember. Like that guy in Florida who acted like a zombie and started eating a homeless guy. Could he have done something like that with the hatchet? Was there something in the ‘shine, kinda like the bath salts, that drove his mind over the edge? He planned on staying away from that stuff anyway. But getting to the truth of what happened was another thing. And to be honest, he wasn’t so sure he wanted to find out the truth. He could hear that line, “You can’t handle the truth!” yelling in his head when he thought of that. You’re right Jack, I don’t think I can, he said in reply.
Mike determined to stay clear of anything that would cloud his judgement for a while. This had him spooked. Who knew what kinds of things would set him off and what he was capable of.
One day after work, after being sober for about two months with no end in sight to it, he stopped Jared at work. “Hey Jared, can we talk after work?”
“Sure man, anything wrong?”
“Nah, just got a few questions and stuff, that’s all. I’d just rather not do it here while we’re working.”
“Yeah, I’ll catch you after then.”
It was a little after five when Jared finally left the factory and Mike waited for him by his car. “Hey Mike, what’s going on? You ok?”
Mike and Jared weren’t the closest of friends, more like those work friends that you sometimes hang out with but don’t share your deepest thoughts and concerns with. But, they did drink together a lot and sometimes that bond goes a bit further than others.
“Yeah Jared, I’m good. I just wanted to talk to you about that time several weeks ago at Gene’s, that time I got messed up on his ‘shine.”
“Oh man, you were lit up! You took one sip of that stuff and I knew it was over.”
“Well, yeah, it kinda was. What happened? How much did I actually have?”
“What? You mean you don’t remember?”
“Nah, not at all.” He leaned against Jared’s car and waited for his reply.
“Well, umm, ok. Do you remember drinking at all?
“All I remember was having that first drink, and then…well, I woke up in my car.” He was not about to start telling him about the void and the brothers and the Sponsers, or the hatchet. Not yet.
“Damn Mike. You had way more than one drink. You downed that first one like it was water and asked for more. Gene happily poured another and you did just the same. We were all gasping and weezing because it burnt so bad, but you…you just acted like it was nothing and drank more and more of it. You started to get loud and talked about getting you some sponsor for AA ‘cause you were an alcoholic. It was funny, but started to get out of control. We got a bit worried. The twins decided to take you home after about an hour or so. It didn’t take you long to get wasted. Noelle wasn’t there yet, so they walked you in and left you. I guess you must have had other plans ‘cause you took your car and drove off into who knows where. We didn’t hear from you for days. Noelle called all of us and even the cops. You sure you don’t remember any of that?”
Mike stood there, leaning on the car dazed and focused on some crack in the parking lot. Sponsors? He couldn’t get his mind off of that. He spoke about AA sponsors to them? Were that what those black things represented in his visions, if they were visions? He was more confused than before. It was as though his mind was melding reality and fantasy into a tight knot that he couldn’t unravel. He had no idea what to believe. It was all so…fucked up. What was going on in him? It all felt real, but it couldn’t possibly be, yet he had bruises, cramps, and a damn hatchet that all told him it was.
“Mike, you alright man?”
“Yeah, sorry about that. I did that? Damn I don’t remember any of that.”
“Yeah, looking back at it, it’s not so funny anymore. At the time, you were a riot. You went on and on about getting you a sponsor because you had a problem and then you’d drink another glass of the ‘shine and we’d all laugh. I guess it was a bit more serious than we thought. Look, I’m sorry about that. I feel bad.”
“No, no don’t worry about it. I just wanted to know. Thanks.”
“Yeah, no problem. I hope we didn’t screw things up for you and Noelle.”
“Nah, we’re good,” and he walked away, hands in his pockets, thinking about what Jared told him. The whole drive home, he couldn’t get his mind off of the Sponsers and the brothers and all that happened.
Thanks for reading! Please leave a comment below, let me know what you think of the story so far. Come back tomorrow for chapter 9 of Master of the Drunken Fist. Click here for the Table of Contents and links for the chapters.