Never Been LovedBy: C.M. Kars
The kid’s crying and it’s the dramatic kind, too. Christ, he’s four years old and he knows how to play me. Fucking shit.
I keep my eyes on the road, almost missing a stop sign when I catch a glimpse of him in the rear-view mirror wiping a wad of snot on the sleeve of a shirt I just fucking washed.
I turn the radio on, play with the buttons until something good comes on. Kiss’ ‘Detroit Rock City’ starts and it’s like Paul Stanley has gotten into my car and wiped the tears off of Matty’s face. Thank you, Jesus. I start driving a little faster, easing my foot onto the gas pedal, barely tapping the brake when I hit a stop.
Twenty seconds from my mom’s place, and the kid starts wailing again like I’ve gone and maimed him for life instead of bringing him to his grandma’s. The howls he’s letting out are the kinda screams you hear in Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
I pull up to the brick palace and go to the back seat to get Matty unbuckled, my movements on routine and my brain on standby. I’m not thinking about the kid, or the shit I’m going to deal with my mom right now, or even Eddie. Or the memories the house is going to bring back for me.
Nah, my dick is twitching with the image of Aly’s mouth around it, and the way she just sent me a video of her touching herself and begging me to finish her off. So like the dog I am, I’m going to have a little fun, a little break from the shit my life’s become. And Matty isn’t going to ruin it, even if those blue eyes are the perfect shade of his mom’s and not mine.
“Why can’t I stay with you, Daddy? I promise I’ll be good! Please, please?” His little arms have wound themselves around my neck while he sobs in my shoulder. I donkey-kick the car door closed and beep the car locked. Man, my life is summed up in that gently-used Honda.
Dependable, only on good days. Good for the winter, all right. Used, just like me. Car seat in the back killing my game, and constantly reminding me that my life isn’t mine anymore, that I’m responsible for someone other than myself.
“You’re going to be fine.” My voice sounds dead, even to me. “I’ll come pick you up later and we can watch whatever movie you want when we get home, all right?” I don’t know why I say all right at the end. Nothing’s all right.
“You promise?” Matty sniffs, and pulls back to look at me. I get sucker-punched in the gut every single time I look at him.
It’s been three years since her death; you’d think I’d be used to it by now. But the kid loses a piece of her every time his face changes, every day he gets a little older, looking more and more like the boy he’s meant to be, and less like his mother even if the blueprints are there.
“Sure, kid, whatever you want. But you have to be good for Grandma and Eddie. And don’t eat any sweets, all right?”
I grunt like I’ve been stabbed. “Okay, good. I’ll see you later, alligator.”
Matty rubs his eyes, and leans forward to ring the doorbell. He turns to look at me, blue eyes so much like hers, my dumb throat closes up. “In a while, crocodile.
Eddie opens the door as usual, looking like he’s got a livewire up his ass, arms outstretched. Matty knows the drill. He lets go of me and twists to get into Eddie’s arms, giving him a kiss on the cheek. The kid sure knows how to win people over.
I give him a wave, and move my ass as quick as possible down the stone steps, scuffing the bottom of my sneakers down the very step where I almost cracked my skull and knocked out two teeth all those years ago. God, I hate this place. Someone should raze it to the ground, and the memories it holds, too.
My phone buzzes in my pocket, and my cock is ready to go. I get into the car, look around to see a deserted street. No parents that live here ever let their kids play outside on the street. West End kids play outside in their respective tennis courts, and pools, never some street hockey with a net that has to be moved every time a car drives by.
So I’m alone in the car, like I’m about to do something criminal.
Fishing my spare pack from the glove compartment, I get an alcohol swab ready along my left index finger. The sting is fleeting at this point, and the bead of blood that swells on the pad of my finger makes me slightly nauseous. I stick a test strip into the glucometer that I’ve defaced with a crude drawing of a skull, and wait for the screen to light up. When the thing is ready, I watch the strip suck up a little bit of my blood, like some electronic mosquito without the decency to do the biting for you. I wait the five seconds, hoping for a good number.