searching for an answer to himself part 2 | By: michael W. Sawyer | | Category: Short Story - Self Realization Bookmark and Share

searching for an answer to himself part 2

Kerry picked her head up and looked at her reflection in the bathroom mirror. Water ran down her face as she reached for the hand towel that hung next to the sink.
Toweling off her face she got a sudden urge that she may vomit again, this time it passed without incident. Opening the medicine cabinet she took out the bottle of Visine off of the shelf that it sat on, removed the cap, and placed a few drops in each eye. Kerry blinked repeatedly, spreading the drops evenly around the white of her eyes. After using some mouthwash to remove the taste of the vomit, she stood there for another moment she checked her reflection again before leaving the room. The door to the bathroom opened, and Kerry, leaning against the wall for support, slowly stepped out into the hallway. She regretted making the phone call to the bar, but knew she would feel worse if she had no idea where Tom was. Kerry made her way to the kitchen, opened the refrigerator door, and gave a disappointed sigh before closing it. She had meant to go grocery shopping after she got home from work, but the argument with Tom kept her from doing so. Never able to do what I need to do, Kerry thought to herself. They didn’t have dinner, and her stomach was telling her it was time for her to eat something, especially since what had been her lunch was now rushing through the city’s sewer network. Knowing that she would have to order something in, she picked the Chinese food menu out of the kitchen drawer that held the array of take out menus that they had. Using the kitchen phone, Kerry called and placed an order; she ordered enough food so that whenever it was that he decided to come home, Tom would be able to eat if he was hungry. The person taking the order said it should arrive in about thirty minutes, not being able to wait that long for the food, Kerry knew she needed to munch on something. She took a clean glass out of the drying rack that sat adjacent to the kitchen sink, selecting a small one as opposed to the larger one right beside it. Kerry turned on the sink’s faucet and let the water run for a moment so it could get a little colder than when it first comes out. Flipping on the water purifier, she filled the glass and grabbed a bag of potato chips before returning to the comfort of her couch in the living room.
Kerry began flipping through the channels once more. She was beginning to calm down, now that she knew where Tom was now and where he would be for a while most likely. Munching on the potato chips, Kerry stopped flipping through the channels when she recognized that one of her favorite movies was playing, it made Kerry smiled.
It was the first time for that to happen since she got home from work that day. She watched the movie and didn’t realize how much time had passed until the doorbell rang. A quick rush of panic raced through her body as she approached the door, but it went away just as quick when she looked through the peephole and saw the Chinese food deliveryman standing there. Opening the door, Kerry paid the man, took the food inside, then placed the bag on the kitchen counter and emptied its contents. After placing Tom’s dinner in the refrigerator, she grabbed a set of chopsticks out of the silverware drawer and went once more into the living room. Sitting down, she saw that the movie was in a commercial break, it was the annual commercial for Disney World featuring a player on the winning team in the Super Bowl. Kerry remembered the last time she had been to Disney World; it was she and Tom’s honeymoon.
The happiest place on Earth, Kerry thought as a tear formed in the corner of her eye, not allowing herself to cry again, she remembered the wonderful time the two of them had. They spent a week there, staying in two different resorts that surrounded the theme park. Before tonight, Kerry remembered, that trip was the last time she had vomited, although the circumstances were totally different. Tom made her go on three of the big roller coasters there twice each; it was the second time on the last one, a ride called Space Mountain, that did her in. As soon as the ride was over she sprinted to the ladies room, knocking people out of her way. She almost did not make it in time. When she had come out, Tom was standing there waiting. Before she realized he had the camera out he snapped a picture of her, forever capturing the moment. The picture was now, and always had been, centered on the mantel above the fireplace, Tom would not allow it to be anywhere else. They dined out every meal, went on all the rides, saw all of the attractions, and then there were the nights in the hotel room. As the commercial break ended and the movie began playing again, Kerry came out of her daydream, and started to eat her dinner. She had no idea that at that exact moment a mile across the city, on a television set located in a bar, the Disney World commercial played on the all sports television network.
Tom sat at the bar staring at the television. He was remembering his own version of the events that took place on their honeymoon. He didn’t even notice that more people had come into the bar. Mike was returning from his trip to the bathroom, when he saw the intense look of concentration on Tom’s face and found it very curious. Cautiously approaching him, Mike stood behind him and then quickly jumped in the seat next to Tom, startling him.
“What are you watching’ huh? Oh a commercial, cool. Aw, Disney World, how cute. You wanna go? You wanna go?” Mike’s sarcasm got no response from Tom. “Hello? Anybody home?” Mike waved a hand and snapped his fingers in front of Tom’s face; this action got a response.
“What did you say?” Tom asked, his eyes looking a little bloodshot.
“Man you were staring at that screen like there was a bunch of naked chicks up there or something. What’s wrong with you? You’re acting nuttier than a fruitcake.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Tom asked him.
“You’re not acting like yourself, so that makes you nuts.”
“Oh, it’s nothing. They just played a commercial for Disney World. That’s where Kerry and I spent our honeymoon.” Tom smiled as he said this. “It was probably the best time we ever had on vacation together. We had just gotten married, seeing and doing all the things there, we never had so much sex like we did in that week.”
“Okay hold it right there, enough, too much info, it started out fine but then it just got flat out disgusting. I need something to get that image out of my head.” Mike said as he waved for Rich’s attention. When Rich finally got over to them Mike ordered drinks. “Let me get another one of these, another one of those, and two shots of Jack Daniels one for me, and give one to my reminiscent little friend here.” Tom cringed when he heard which liquor they would be drinking; Mike placed his arm around Tom’s shoulder in reassurance. “What’s with the faces? I thought that you liked Jack. Take the bitter with the sweet, my friend.”
“It’s not that I don’t like the stuff, believe me I do. But I just haven’t had one in so long.” Tom looked as though he was about to drift off into another memory, but Mike got him back.
“All right no more trips down memory lane thank you. Just do the shot and quit your whining.” Mike and Tom lifted their shot cups and drank down the shots. “Oh yeah that’s the good stuff.”
“I agree with you on that.” Tom sat for a couple of seconds just licking his lips, and then he reached for his drink. He had not had a shot of JD in years. Looking around Tom noticed the small crowd that has now gathered at the bar. “When did all these people get here?”
“While I was in the can, and you were off in la la land.” Mike giggled at his almost rhyme. Tom just rolled his eyes at him. “Why you getting nervous because more people are here?”
“I guess anything is better than it just being the two of us.” Tom said, taking a sip of his drink.
“Thanks a lot, dick. That’s a terrible thing to say to someone. Fine if you don’t appreciate me, I’ll go and find someone who does. I’ll go make some new friends with these people down here.” Mike got up and walked away, still ranting and raving. Tom smiled as he shook his head and returned his attention to the television.
Tom couldn’t remember what it was that he was watching. His body was just now getting reacquainted with the shot of Jack Daniels. Mike, who was telling one of his famous jokes, was now entertaining the people at the front of the bar. Tom couldn’t help but listen to him, due to the loudness that Mike tends to speak. If there was a person who wanted to always be the center of attention it was definitely Mike. Whether it was in a good way or a bad way, it made no difference to Mike, he’s always one of the first to get a laugh, or get into a fight. Laughter erupted from the group, and Mike was heading back over toward Tom.
“Hey asshole get up and let’s play some pool.” Mike said as he handed Tom four quarters.
“I really don’t feel like it right now. Maybe in a little while.” Tom replied.
“I’ve already told you to stop your whining, now come play pool before I slap you like the bitch that you are. You bitch.”
Tom reluctantly got up off of his chair, took his drink, and followed Mike towards the back of the bar and over to the pool table. Mike put the quarters in the change slide, while Tom waited for the balls to come out so he could rack them up. The first game only took a matter of minutes, before Tom got on a streak and sank four balls in a row and then sunk the eight ball for the win. Mike was visibly upset over this, and demanded a rematch. The second game had the same outcome as the first. After it was over, Mike threw his pool stick down to the floor with disgust.
“You got to be kidding me.” Mike said, picking his stick up from the floor.
“Take it easy man, it’s only a game. Wow, and you say I need to chill out.”
“It’s bullshit! The balls don’t go where they’re supposed to.” Mike screamed as he reached into his pockets. “Let’s play one more, this time the game will be for twenty dollars.” Tom hesitated for a moment before accepting Mike’s challenge. The money made no difference on the outcome, as the result was the same as the first two games.
“I believe you owe me twenty dollars, sir.” Tom gloated as he stuck out his hand waiting for the money. Mike was muttering under his breath as he handed over the cash. “What was that Mike? Couldn’t quite hear you. Can you speak up a little?”
“I said nice game dickhead.” Mike said with a smile.
“Liar. Let’s play one more, no money this time.” Tom began to rack the balls up for another game. He was laughing while doing so.
“Yeah all right. No money sounds good. As it is now, my alimony payment is going to be twenty dollars short.”
Kerry put whatever part of her dinner she didn’t finish into the refrigerator. Looking up at the clock on the wall, she saw it was close to ten at night. She hoped Tom would be home soon so that they could talk, but also knew she wouldn’t be able to stay up all night and wait for him. Being a schoolteacher required her to be up early every morning, but since she was also a bus monitor it forced her to wake up even earlier. Should I call the bar again? Kerry thought to herself. She shook her head, deciding against it. As she crossed into the living room, there was a knock at the door. She stopped and looked at the door, thinking at first that it was just her imagination. Waiting there for a moment, the knock came again, a little bit louder this time. Her fears began to build up inside her once more. Praying it wasn’t a police officer coming to tell her Tom was dead; she cautiously looked through the peephole. Letting out a sigh of relief, she opened the door. Standing there dressed as though she was ready to go out somewhere was Kerry’s best friend Paula. Kerry had a feeling that Paula would want her to go out with her, and she began shaking her head right away.
“Why you shaking your head?” Paula asked with her Brooklyn accent. “I ain’t going to make you do nothing you don’t want to.”
“I appreciate that Paula, would you like to come in?” Kerry opened the door and let Paula into the house. Together they went into the living room and sat down.
“How you feelin’? Any better?” Paula asked. “Did you find out where he is?”
“I called the bar, he’s there. So I guess I just wait until he blows off all this steam and comes home.”
“Why don’t you go down there and talk to him? You know he wouldn’t want to cause a scene in front of his friends.”
“I can’t go there, it’s like invading his private space.” Kerry said with regret.
“You think he’s got another chick?” Paula’s question got a look of shock as a response from Kerry. “Yeah you’re right he wouldn’t do that. He ain’t like any of the guys I’ve been with.” Paula last statement was reassuring to Kerry, after all Kerry knew the type of guys Paula has been with.
“Where are my manners? Would you like something to drink?”
“I brought my own.” Paula said as she reached into her oversized pocketbook. She pulled out a bottle of wine. “Got a corkscrew?”
Kerry smiled, jumped up and ran out to the kitchen. The sound of a drawer opening and then closing is heard before Kerry re-enters the living room carrying the corkscrew and two glasses. Paula smiles as she takes the corkscrew, opens the bottle of wine, and pours the two of them each a glass. It didn’t take long for either of them to finish their first glass. Paula took hold of the bottle and gave each of them a refill. Kerry could tell the wine was in fact relaxing her more and more.
“Can I ask you something?” Paula waited for conformation, while Kerry waited for the question. “Have you ever thought about leaving him? Things have been getting rough between you two. Maybe end things before they get too out of hand. You know like the song says, Know when to hold them, know when to fold them etc.”
“I’m not ready to fold this hand. We’re just going through a tough time right now.”
“And what’s the cause of it, his inability to control his anger.”
“Not all of our problems are Tom’s fault. That wouldn’t be fair to say.” Kerry was becoming very defensive. “Relationships are a two way street, a lot of it has been my fault as well. Plus he’s just under more stress now because he lost his job.”
“Oh, please. You’re the one who keeps this relationship together. You know there is nothing wrong with getting him to change. Oh, wait a minute, you don’t still blame yourself for what happened do you?” Kerry did not respond to Paula’s question right away, she seemed to drift off into another daydream. “Kerry?”
“What woman wouldn’t? I lost two of his babies, our babies. I’m sure he feels a resentment towards me. What kind of a wife am I?”
“Stop talking like that. Kerry just listen to yourself. You’re blaming yourself for things you had no control over. Look at all the stress you were under at that time.”
“I should have seen the car coming.” Kerry was now in a trance like state. Staring off into nothingness.
“Tom doesn’t blame you for the miscarriages, so stop blaming yourself. You can’t control what other people do. That guy that hit you is paying for his crime, a little late. A person who has three DWI’s should not have been behind the wheel of a car in the first place.”
“Had I seen the car, both our parents would have been able to meet their grandchild or children.” Kerry, not being able to hold it in any more, broke down, Paula put her arms around her and allowed Kerry to cry on her shoulder.
“It’s okay girl, it’s okay. Let it all out, come on you’ll feel better.” They sat there for a few more minutes not saying a word. The television was barely able to drown out the sound of Kerry sobbing.
Tom and Mike had begun playing their fourth game of pool. The pace of this one was more relaxed and social. They each smoked a cigarette while playing.
“So what’s up your but, man?” Mike asked as he lined up his shot.
“Kerry and I got into another fight tonight. It was a pretty heated argument. That’s why I ended up leaving to clear my head.”
“What was this one about?” Mike asked.
“I’d rather not talk about it.”
“It’s really the only way you’re going to feel better.” Mike was waiting hoping that line would get Tom to talk.
“It was just a regular problem that most married couple have. I’m sure it will be just like all the others and blow over in a little while.”
“Ah the good old domestic dispute. I used to really love them, but then they got boring. It’s not really something that you can do everyday if you want things to work, but you know I found a way to solve all of those.”
“Really? Would you care to share any of this wisdom of yours with someone who has not yet found the answer.” Tom asked with sarcasm.
“Well I guess because you really need help, and because we are friends I could tell you, it’s called divorce.” Mike said with a chuckle.
“You’re a dick.” Tom walked around the pool table, trying to figure out what his next shot would be. Upon hearing the front door of the bar open and close, they both turned their attention toward the entrance. The group of people at the bar blocked their line of sight, but they soon learned whom it was that came in.
“Hey you guys!” The voice called out to them.
“What’s up?” Mike and Tom responded together.
Chris walked to the back of the bar, walking with a spring to his steps that had become one of his many trademarks. Holding a bottle of Budweiser in one hand, he places four quarters on the pool table with the other. He shakes hands with his two friends before sitting down in one of the chairs that aligned the back wall. Putting his feet up on another chair, he waited patiently for his game to start, making small talk with the others while doing so.
“So how are you boys doing this evening?” Chris asked as he sipped from his bottle.
“Fantastic.” Mike responded.
“That’s what I like to hear. How ‘bout you Tom?”
“Don’t ask him, he’s being a baby.” Mike said, answering before Tom could speak.
“I’m doing fine, Chris.” Tom said after giving Mike a dirty look.
“Liar. He’s a baby. You missed it he got all sentimental about his woman.” Mike quickly responded.
“Why is it that you feel it necessary to piss me off every opportunity you can?” Tom asked Mike.
“Because it’s fun.” Mike replied.
“Well stop, it’s not fun it’s annoying.”
“Maybe for you.”
“Whoa, I don’t mean to start a lovers quarrel between you two.” Chris said jokingly.
“Screw you.” Mike and Tom said in sync.
“Such hostility. Can’t we all just get along?” Chris asked, as he drank more of his beer.
The three of them stood there talking, filling Chris in on the details of Tom’s situation. Chris then acknowledged that he understood, and took the chance to throw in some more jokes directed at Tom. The three of them then played a game of pool together. The looser of the game, which once again was Mike, walked up to the bar with his head down, pouting as he moved. He ordered a round of shots for the three of them, the price of loosing the game. Chris leaned against the pool table as Tom sat in the chair. The two of them talking more about what Tom was going through. Chris gave him whatever advice he could, although he was the only one of their group of friends that has never been married. They continued talking on the subject until Mike returned with their shots. They raised their plastic shot cups in a toast, throwing them over their shoulders once the cups were empty.
“Oh yeah, that little baby hit the spot.” Chris drank from his bottle chasing down the taste of the harsh shot with the refreshing taste of his beer.
“You know I’ve already done more shots tonight than I had in probably the last few months. I’m sure I’ll be feeling that in the morning.” Tom recalled.
“Well at least you don’t have to go to work.” Mike joked. Tom did not think this particular joke was funny.
“I don’t think that was right.” Tom told him.
“I’ll have to agree with him on that. It was hitting a little below the belt.” Chris added. Tom nodded his head in agreement with Chris.
“Well that’s cause you’re both a couple of bitches.” For some reason, whenever Mike called someone a bitch, it got a laugh from whoever was around even from the person he called a bitch. This time was no different.
The bar began to fill with people at a steadier pace now. Rich could be seen running back and forth behind the bar, trying to satisfy his patrons desire for booze. Mike, Chris, and Tom continued to hang out by the pool table, even though they were no longer playing. Looking at his watch, Tom saw that it was getting close to eleven thirty. Realizing that Kerry would be going to sleep soon, he contemplated going home and settling things with her. After looking around at the people in the bar, he decided he would be better off staying here. Tom stood in a fog, until Mike came over and slapped him.
“What the…” Tom said while holding his cheek, the stinging of the slap resonating throughout his head.
“Come back to this planet space boy. I told you before no more trips into la la land.” Mike said, pointing his finger in Tom face. “I’m warning you, don’t let it happen again.”
“Usually the warning precedes the hitting.” Chris reminded them.
“Yeah, well, I hit first then warn later. Don’t make me come after you.”
“That sounds like a good idea, kick his ass for a change.” Tom’s cheek was now red.
“Not necessary, I’ll be good.” Chris said throwing his arms up in front of him in a defensive way. “This night is starting to get a little out of hand.”
“Gee you think?” Mike asked.

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