Mathew Serback
AFTER APOLOGIES (Part IX)



              “You want to talk about addiction?”
                     -Eddie Guerrero


Truth is, I am an addict.
       The clouds took the city from us.
       The only thing the storm left us was debris of what could have been. Your childhood was chunked onto the lawn during the storm. There was your spineless Barbie; its limbs were ripped off. The head sat a few feet away from the body – detached.
       There was also your old Bible. The spine purged from the pages.
       I picked it up and put it into my arms with all of the other useless shit of yours I’d collected once the water stopped. You locked your arms around me, rested your chin on my shoulder, I couldn’t find a reason to tell you to keep it up.
       I did that to myself. That was just the beginning of it. For three years, not only did I lose my jobs, I lost my wife – I lost my kids – I lost myself. I lost my spirit. I came to a point in my life where it was do or die. I had to make a decision. Do – or – die. And you know what?
       I enrolled in a swimming class at the local YMCA. I was a grown man who didn’t know how to swim, and I figured it was time I learned something. On the first day of class, I tried to explain to you that I was not a parent, and you laughed at my misconceptions on what learning to swim would give to me – emotionally.
       “I feel uneasy taking my shirt off in a room full of children,” I told you.
       “It’ll be fine,” you assured me.
       I did because I’m here right now.
       The city closed off everything because of the storm.
       The airport fell apart under the weight of the people needing a way out. All the flights were cancelled; people were forced to outlast the floods and find their own form of high ground.
       When we marched from our old house – the one that was destroyed – to the motel we stayed out, we didn’t speak much, which means we said a lot of words, but they all fell short of fracturing the walls we’d built.
       In the past, you loved to confess your drunken disappointments about how I never told you much about my life. Everything was a secret with me – you thought.
       Day by day, by the grace of God, I have earned my way back into this ring. Day by day, by the grace of God, I have earned my life back.
       The voice on the television assured us that everything was going to be okay. You were stretched out on the bed in your underwear and listening intently to the things they wanted us to know. That was a thing about you: You liked to listen to things; you enjoyed the noise.
       When we arrived at the motel, you’d pulled the Bible out and put it on the bed next to you – for comfort. I didn’t believe in it, and, sometimes, I thought of using the transient property and determining that I didn’t believe in you either.
       “Would you move your book?” I asked. I wanted to sit down, but I really wanted you to know that I was unhappy.
       “You’re so demanding,” you replied without moving an inch.
       I picked the Bible up and held in front of my face; I tried to x-ray the words and see something more than paper and printed word.
       “You know I saw a palm reader once,” I said.
       “What’s that got to do with anything?” You asked.
       “Same amount of validity as this,” I chuckled and waved the good book.
       “What did she say?”
       “She promised me that I’d marry a blond psychology major,” I said.
       “And?”
       “If I marry you, that means she couldn’t see the future,” I said.
       “Don’t be shocked,” you said. “Psychics are a scam – and they’re usually wrong.”
       “But was she – wrong?” I asked.
       You lifted your half-naked body and pulled the book out of my hands. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
       “Do you think I settled for you – or did you settle for me?” I asked.
       “What the fuck are you even saying?”
       “There’s power in admitting the truth,” I said and thumbed at the thick cover of the Bible, which you took as a sign of something cosmic. You reared back and flung the book at the dead center of my head.
       “I wished you used your brain sometimes,” you said.
       “Me too,” I agreed.
       “We’ll talk tomorrow,” you spasmed.
       “Everything will be better,” I said. “Tomorrow.”
       “Did the psychic tell you that too?” You asked.
       Oh, what a high it is.




You can find Mathew Serback's poetry, fiction, and nonfiction in [PANK], filling station, Crack the Spine, Literary Orphans, and many other terrific publications.