THE DYING OF BOBBY MARS: SNEAK PEEK 7
If you haven’t read the beginning of The Dying of Bobby Mars, you can start by clicking here.
Hope you enjoy this uncorrected sneak peek.
I wake up Christmas day springing from my bed. I damn near fly out of bed and down the hall. The jittering bugs of excitement infecting my childhood self, but I’ve never known a good Christmas. That’s not something my family ever had. My father’s working. He’s laid out the gifts under the tree. This pathetic tree keeps three small, old shoeboxes adorned with bows warm—two more than normal. The tree has too few lights and too few ordainments compared to those whom truly indulge in the spirit of getting.
“Wow!” I shout “One. Two. Three. Four! I got four presents form Santa!”
I see a smaller one behind the first. Missed one…but four is nothing to write home about.
However, the sight leaves me thunderstruck as if there had never been a more impressive hoard. As if Smaug should be there calling me thief.
“You don’t know any better, Bobby-boy,” I say. This isn’t anything worth anything.
There’s nothing cute about this Charlie Brown Tree. It’s the first tree we’ve had because Mrs. Franks had us draw Christmas trees before the break. It seems I didn’t know you were supposed to have one until everyone at school told me so. Kind of funny, in a sad sort of way.
I hate this holiday…
I rush over to the gifts after the bout of shock fades, but stop short of opening any of them. I look to the couch, to the recliner, and then I walk to my father’s room to find an empty bed—not that he ever really sleeps there.
“Dad?” I shout running through the house. “Dad! Dad, Santa came. Dad. Dad?”
It takes me only a few minutes to search the house. Shouldn’t have taken that long, but five-year-old Bobby looks in stupid places like under the sink, in the closets, and under the beds. But I only discover how cluttered our empty house is. Once I realize, or lose interest in search or waiting or whatever the rationale that buzzes through a five-year-old’s head, I rush to the tree.
My father is on another date with another junker for dismantling into sellable parts for overdue bills and bologna to go with the mayonnaise sandwiches we’ve been having for the past four days. He took me on a few runs to the junkyard over the summer before I started school and on the weekends. He took me if he was going to be gone for most the day, but if it’s only a few hours, Bobby is man of the house.
I open the first gift from Santa. A new pair of boots. I think my father liked boots because they were durable. They’re miniature visions of his and—from the looks of it—two sizes too big, but it would be too expensive to keep buying new shoes for a growing boy. And the secondhand stores seldom had what you need. I toss them aside.
The second box holds in store a toy jet plane. Probably from some truck stop my father stopped in at. It’s silver with American flags stickers on the wings painted to look like some fighter jet in the Air Force. Could tell you if it was painted halfway decent. Whoever painted it in the factory must’ve never been taught how to stay inside the lines. I fly it around the house. It is new, yet breaks against my child grip—cheap.
What did you expect?
The next box has a shirt with a tyrannosaurus rex on it. It smells new. I squeal as I pull it over head and tear into the final gift—a superhero coloring book and a box of crayons. I look through the pages stopping at Batman to marvel. Then I get bored, and start flying the jet plane.
Had some rich brat been given these gifts, it would have been a travesty. They would think that they fucked up, that Santa thinks they’re too naughty for the good stuff. The poor kids have to go to school after winter break, and hear about all the video game consoles, skateboards, and bikes—the bountiful gifts of a king—from Santa while we wonder what we did wrong or why we didn’t get all that cool shit from Santa.
The days fly by and my new jet plane is grounded after serving over a few tours around the house and I complete the coloring book in a single lonely day. I thank my father, tell him I love him, and witness that glow of pride in his eyes at a job well done.
However, after the first day back to school, I come home crestfallen, asking, “Daddy, why did Santa get all the other kids a bunch of stuff? I wasn’t bad, was I?”
I missed it then, I was only a child after all, but I see it now. I can see the pain in my father’s eyes. The anguish brewing there promising thunderstorms in his mind and downpours out of his eyes. His mouth twitches, frowning briefly, then he smiles despite himself, saying, “Never. Never seen a better boy in all my life! Santa told me he is saving up your presents to get you—” my father’s voice tears; he wipes away a tear “—get you the biggest gift you’ve ever seen.”
“Really, really. Trust me on this, Bobby-boy. I know, but you got to save up for it, understand?”
“I guess so.”
He puts a hand on my head, messes up my hair, and says to me, “Trust me, Bobby-boy.”
“Okay.” My five-year-old self smiles, but my heart breaks at the sorrow wetting my father’s eyes.
“Come on,” he says. “Let’s watch a movie, how’s that sound? Go pick your favorite—”
“But I have two favorites!” I protest, holding up two fingers.
“Then you best hurry if we are going to finish them all before bedtime.”
“Yes, yes, yes! You’re the best Dad in the whole world!”
I bolt away returning with three movies, and excitedly quaking like a child that is about to piss themselves.
While watching the Caped Crusader, throwing punches and kicks at the bad guys, I look at my father from time to time asking him if he saw this or that and each time he smiles at me from the cough, saying, “You bet I did, Bobby-boy.” But a few of those times he’s wiping away a tear, yet for each tear he wipes away two more take its place. That night, after Batman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I lay in bed playing with my stegosaurus and one-winged jet plane, making them battle each other. I can feel the happiness in my tiny chest as the five-year-old me pits beast against machine. Meanwhile, I listen to the muffled weeping of my father.
Is he drinking? I wonder trying to remember when I saw he really start drinking. The moment when a six-pack turned into a bottle of liquor. But I don’t think his budding habit truly has bloomed into full blown chaos and ruined his life—our life—just yet.
“Go and stop it all from happening, Bobby-boy.” I say while suppressing the memories of things to come. “Go on!”
I keep on playing like a stupid fucking child.
“Do something, Bobby!” I scream, but the words never materialize. I can see and hear, taste and touch, and smell as if I’m actually here, as if all of this is real. But I’m mute. Mute and paralyzed. I can’t move my legs or arms or even a goddamn, fucking finger! I cannot—
“Bobby!” I roar fighting to be heard, my body—or soul or whatever I am—tingling all over.
“Bobby, stay awake!” I shout seeking to halt the march of my eyelids. However, they descend despite my protests leaving me in darkness. I sleep yet I am awake, unshakably so, and trapped inside a sleeping body awaiting the eight or so hours until my alarm clock (I have an alarm clock because my father’s never home in the mornings to see me off) wakes me for school. A song pops into mind filling the loneliness, Town Called Malice by The Jam.
How can I change anything? I wonder. Am I not supposed to? Am I supposed to watch everyone around me leave me, betray me, hurt me. Die.
Am I supposed to witness it all? I thought I was supposed to save them, but now all I can ask myself is: What if you were wrong?
I see again my father’s face again. It rests nestled in the padded pink cushions of his oaken coffin. Grand Canyons running through his face crafting a state of perpetual mourning. He mourned his own life, helplessness to change it, and the obsessive idea that mounting problems hide their solutions in the bottom of a bottle. My father, the man chasing that dream of happiness, perished from the pursuit of it…by his own short comings and devices. But I cannot help but to think that I played a role.
“Am I not supposed to save him?” I ask, thinking, Is there a way to intervene or am I powerless? Is there really nothing I—
No. No, I must be doing something wrong…
I allow my mind to toil over and over notions that will perhaps bear fruit.
Should I meditate?
What if it isn’t God at all… The thought frightens me. What if I was born into the part of the world that practices the wrong religion, worships the wrong God…
My mind flashes images before me. It’s displaying the countless faiths and philosophies that dominate the world. And I know nothing of them. I couldn’t tell you more about Islam than that they worship Allah. I think Buddhism is all about meditation and Nirvana and the belief in reincarnation. But if that’s right then I should’ve been reincarnated…
While considering the living religions of the world, I think of those that have crossed the boundary from religion to mythology, and the ignorance I feel is overwhelming.
Didn’t the Greeks sacrifice cows and shit to satisfy the gods?
I think of all the ancient history lessons from school, but I draw a blank.
The Aztecs sacrificed people…
But I can’t move a finger so how would I do anything to please whoever is watching? What will I do if any of them are the truth after death? I know nothing of about them. No idea how to pray the right way or the proper rituals to appease or how to work magic if magic is even fucking even real. But given what’s happening now, maybe it is.
What in the fuck am I supposed to do?
I feel fear slither through my—
I assume that’s what I am, but who know?
“Hope for what?” I ask myself. “Hope that you’ll be able to change this? Why? Shouldn’t you want this to end? Do you really want to suffer through twenty-two more years? Is it worth it? Is it, Bobby-boy?”
The weight of it all crushes into me, pressing against me in a suffocating way despite the fact that I have no need to breath.
“Please,” I say to whomever may be listening to me, daring to hope even though I feel the foolishness of the sentiment skyrocket. “Please, show me what to do. Show me how—”
I think of all the lives I’ve ruined and all those I’ve seen crash and burn.
“—to fix all of this. There must be a reason to be seeing what I’m seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, smelling what I am, right? It can’t be pointless. Meaningless. Right?”
I wait in the darkness while my past-self sleeps hoping for something, anything, to happen.