We’re on the home stretch! Welcome back for the next chapter of my 2012 NaNoWriMo winning novel Master of the Drunken Fist. If you need to catch up, check out the Table of Contents.
Mike awoke to utter confusion. His house had been ransacked. While passed out someone robbed him and he did nothing to stop the intruders. Away on his adventure, he let his real life get taken advantage of. He felt foolish, and angry. At first he felt anger towards Noelle. She should have been able to stop this, yet she was at work. Then, his anger turned towards himself. How could he be so blind to his real life and allow this to happen? Shame started to overcome the anger as he realized how upset this would make Noelle.
Mike jumped up from the couch and immediately felt woozy. He had a hangover, and sudden movements were not good for his head. The room spun a bit as he tried regaining his sense of balance, but it was too much. He collapsed on the floor, looking up at the swirling ceiling. He never noticed the patterns in the paint before, but they began to swirl too. He closed his eyes tightly, trying to focus on being still. For a moment, the spinning stopped. Opening his eyes, it all came rushing back, and he could hold it no longer as he turned to the side and vomited. He normally didn’t do that, but he must have had a lot in a short amount of time. That or his body hated tequila. Either way, he was not enjoying this, and he had a lot to clean up before Noelle got back.
After emptying his stomach, Mike sat there for a few minutes, just trying to breathe and let the dizziness pass. When he felt sure enough that it was under control, he stood up, much slower than before. Standing, swaying ever so slightly, he surveyed the room, and it was a mess. The bookshelves were tossed on the floor. Plants were knocked over. His lamp, which stood next to the couch, was on the floor, a large tear in the shade with the bulb busted on the floor. The television was on the floor, face down. Mike lifted it only to find it shattered all over the carpet. From the looks of it, Mike thought everything was still there, but in a mess. Now why the hell would anyone come in here and destroy my shit. They didn’t even take a thing he thought to himself.
He rubbed his side, the place where the tribesman, an “Aztec” Cortez called him, slammed his spear into his side. Lifting up his shirt, he saw a large bruise, along his ribs. It was long and thin, sort of like a pole, like the spear that hit him in the otherworld. It was sore and he could barely touch it. The red marks were distinct, there was no way of hiding that from Noelle, especially after it started to bruise, which it would soon.
Mike just stood there, looking at the destruction and feeling an immense amount of pain. His hands were sore, as though they were clenched. He could feel the muscles in his hands keep a closed grip, kind of like when he would hold the broom too long at work while cleaning up the floors. He tried to uncurl them and that only made them worse.
“What the fuck happened?” he asked out loud. No one answered. He had no idea how his place got in the shape it was in, and he surely had no idea how his hands..
“Wait, the fight. Is that it?” he said aloud again, looking down at his hands. He could feel the fight, feel punching that Aztec. He felt invincible then, felt like he could do no wrong. Nothing like he felt right now. He was weak, he was scared, and he knew anything he did was the wrong thing. That was the allure of the void and the lands it took him to. He was something, unlike anything he was in the real world. It was his one escape from the boring, monotonous life he had lived his whole life. At least there, he was worth something to someone, just ask Cortez. He knew then his pain was from the fight, that it somehow carried over into this life. It didn’t matter to him though. It was a badge of courage, a sign that somewhere, he was a someone. And pride started to well up in him.
It was then that he heard the car door slam shut. “Fuck!” he said out loud. There he was standing in the living room, wrecked, with puke on the floor. “Fuck” he said again.
Noelle walked in, laid her keys on the counter and walked into the living room.
Her eyes went large at the sight of Mike standing in the midst of the mess. “What happened? Mike dammit, what the fuck happened?”
He was at a loss, unsure what to say. “I, I, I don’t know exactly Noe. I think we got broken in to.” He sounded like he believed it, but Noelle saw right through it.
“You got drunk again, didn’t you? I leave for one night, to work, and you get fucking drunk! Dammit Mike, how can I trust you? Look at this place!”
“But Noe, I didn’t do this. I woke up, and it was like this. Everything is trashed.”
“My ass you had nothing to do with this Mike! When you get drunk, you get violent. You did this Mike, no one else. Why the hell would anyone come in here, trash the place, and then leave? Huh? Tell me Mike, I’d like to know.”
Mike fell silent. Inside, he knew he was right, he knew he didn’t do it. There had to be an explanation to this. “Noelle, seriously, I don’t know what happened, but I do know I didn’t do it. Why won’t you believe me?”
“Oh, so you ask me to trust you now? Sort of like trusting you to get help, to go to a therapist to help you with your problem? Tell me Mike, how’s that working out for you, huh? Tell me, I’d like to know.”
“What? We’ve been broken in to and that’s all you want to talk about? Really? Fine, whatever. It’s fine. My therapist says I’m doing great.”
“Mike, that’s bullshit and you know it! You haven’t been seeing anyone. I asked your boss, and he said you don’t have a company therapist. You’ve been lying all this time to me about seeking help. I went along because you did seem to be doing a better job of keeping your drinking under control. But not anymore. Fuck this Mike. I’m done with the lies, done with the fakeness. I can’t take this anymore. Do you have any idea what this is doing to me? You drink and drink and drink. Then in your violent, alcoholic rage, you destroy what you claim to love the most.” She began sobbing deeply, uncontrollably. This had been welling up inside her for some time, and it was all coming out at this moment.
Mike decided to stop the charade. “You’re right Noe, I haven’t been seeing anyone,” he said quietly. He was never one for confrontation, and this was way beyond his comfort level.
“But I had a reason Noe, a good one. I needed alcohol to get into the void, to the places and people on the other side of it. They needed me Noe, and that was the only way there. I didn’t think you’d ever understand that, so I had to lie in order to keep drinking.”
She stood there with the most complete look of anger Mike had ever seen in his life. “Who the fuck do you think I am Mike? I’m not a fucking moron. I’m not stupid. Why the hell would you say something so ridiculous as that as an excuse of why you need to drink? You are fucking crazy. I can’t believe you’d say something like that!” And her crying began again, stronger than before.
“I told you you wouldn’t understand Noe. Now do you see why I had to lie? It doesn’t make sense, it hardly does to me. All I know is that when I drink, I go to a place I call the void, and from there I get to meet other people and help them. I get to be somebody there Noe, not like here where I’m a nobody.”
“Mike, you are a somebody. To me! Mike we’ve been together a long time, and you have always been somebody to me. You are always there for me. You always take care of me. Mike, you mean everything to me. How can you say something like that?”
“Noe, it’s not like that. I know we are something to each other, but it’s different. It’s to be expected that we’re there for each other. But outside of that, who am I? I’m a fucking glorified janitor. Whoop-de-fucking-do. I’m a nothing. But there, in the void, I’m a somebody. And those people there, they need me. Without me, they can’t take care of the problems they’re facing. Noe, it’s complicated. The only way of getting there is by drinking. I don’t know how or why, but that’s how it works. I have to drink so I can get there. They need me Noe.”
“Mike, do you hear what you’re saying? You have to get drunk, just so some strangers can be taken care of…by you? That’s crazy Mike! Can’t you see that? The alcohol has gotten hold of you. Mike, you’re an alcoholic. You don’t go anywhere when you drink. You stay right here. You get violent and destroy things. And now it sounds like you don’t care that you’re destroying things with us. All because you have to drink to get to some imaginary place. Mike you seriously need help, you really do.”
Take care of things. Take care of her he heard Cortez say in his head. Take care of the problems back there Abe scolded him.
“Fuck you, all of you! You needed me, you both said so!” He realized he shouted out loud, and wished he could take it back.
Noelle was taken aback by the sudden outburst. Carefully she asked, “Mike, who are you talking to? Do you hear voices? What’s going on Mike?”
“Nothing Noe, forget it. I don’t have a problem. It’s just a means to an end. If you don’t like it, fuck it. You can go. I’m a big boy.”
Noelle stopped crying and looked down at the floor. “Mike, what are you saying?” she said softly. “Do you want to end this? We’ve been together for so long, and we are engaged now. Do you really want to end this because of alcohol?”
“If you won’t stop badgering me about it, then yeah I guess I am saying that. I told you, I don’t have a problem Noe. I have a need. That need is to get to the void to help the people in need. I’m a hero to them. And it’s real Noe. I didn’t think it was, but things keep pointing me to believe that it’s real and I have a place in it. My only means to get there is to drink. I’ve told you that already.”
Quietly, she turned around and picked up her keys off the counter. Before opening the door, she looked back at Mike who was standing, half-naked, in the middle of the trashed living room, looking so thin and frail. He was an alcoholic, and he was angry. She said a quick prayer for him, then turned to go out.
Hearing the door click shut brought Mike out of his stupor. Did she really go? he asked himself. He didn’t think she would. He figured she’d stay with him like always. He wasn’t sure how he felt about that. She deserted him after he bared his soul to her and told her things he never thought he’d tell another living person. He heard her squeel out of the driveway, most likely on her way to her parents house. They lived in the same small town and weren’t that far away.
She left me he said to himself. He stumbled a bit, exhausted from the void and the fight he just had with Noe. This was by far the worst they’d had. He always tried to avoid a fight with her, but this time he couldn’t help it. She pushed and wanted the truth. He gave it to her, though she didn’t like it, much as he anticipated she wouldn’t.
Lowering his head, he rubbed his temples. This was all too much to bear. Noe left him, his house was in a shambles, and there was the void still calling him. He thought if given enough time, Noe would come to her senses and would be back in no time. She had to, she always did after she got mad.
Mike started slowly cleaning up the living room. It took him all morning, but it was long enough for him to think more about the void and what was happening there. He was already longing to be back by the time he picked up the last piece of glass from the floor.
Thanks so much for reading! Feel free to leave a comment about the story below. Come back tomorrow for the next chapter of Master of the Drunken Fist.