In Sean Raymond’s life, days pass. There’s nothing magical or holy about time – it’s the only thing that’s just the same as it ever is. Time won’t go quicker, and it won’t go slower. For some people, that’s a negative thought. They cannot fathom it. There must be a meaning to time, and it must be leading somewhere. But no, to him every minute he lost could have been spent escaping his impetuous style of life. It’s just another minute passing. There goes another. What you do with your time is up to you, because nothing is certain, and the only thing you’re counting down to is unavoidable death. Sean had to figure things out before time got the better of him. Time will always win the war, but there are hundreds of unwon battles to be fought.
He awoke from a nightmare in a disorientated haze. A warm feeling of relief ran through his limbs as he realised whatever it was he was so afraid of in his mind was all just a story. However he couldn’t remember anything of it.
From the seventeenth step and down he could smell an engorging feast had been laid out on the dining table by the cooks, Rosa and Ulga. It dawned on him he’d slept through the day. Well, he was utterly engrossed in that dream.
On entering the dining room, he caught the cooks placing the finishing touches to the table decor, and they welcomed him with a warm glass of milk, sitting him down at his usual seat at the window end of the table. Shortly after he’d settled himself, Louis strolled in with a newspaper under his meaty arm and a disgruntled malaise in his upper lip. Sean watched his father take a seat at the other end of the table, directly opposite him. One by one, the silver covers were lifted from the plates and a new and better Italian dish was revealed.
“Italian for dinner, boys. Enjoy.”
The cooks left them to eat as they proceeded with the washing up in the kitchen. At first there was an eerie silence. Louis was chewing his food especially vigorously with his eyes down, only ever glancing up to take a sip of whiskey.
Then the silence was broken, “Nicky’s spent the day in a hospital bed today, son. I’m not guessing you’ve been there with him all day considering you’ve got these little rectangular sections of your hair that are sticking up like a – a mental patient, and you’re, well, you’re pretty much wearing their uniform too,” he remarked in a snotty reference to his pyjamas.
Biting his tongue, Sean quietly muttered, “I didn’t realise the time.”
Sean took a good long look straight at his father’s face. Louis didn’t bother to reply, not even with a curl of his eyebrow or tut of his mouth. He continued to eat, blissfully unaware of the volcanic eruption bubbling inside his son.
“Dad,” he paused, “I gotta ask you something.”
“Why did you let Nicky get beat up like that?”
“Oh you’re angry at me because I didn’t get violent?”
“Do I sound angry, am I raising my voice?”
Sean fidgeted, figuring through his thoughts, but nothing was coming up that was good enough. Instead, his father continued to interject.
“He’s unconscious, kid. They fucked him up real bad. Okay, so you stood by as it happened, as did Brendon, as did everyone. I’m sure those guys were pretty fucking tough and shit but you didn’t even have the decency to go to the hospital with him. That’s sick, kid. He’s your cousin. You wanna preach at me all day about how I’m so immoral, that violence isn’t natural and that I got no feelings – well it was pretty brutal the way you acted in no way supportive to your best friend. That’s showing no feelings, Sean. You were emotionless.”
An anger boiled like Sean had never felt before. He wasn’t used to the pins and needles that ran through him, every electric signal in his body sending out to move but taking all of his strength to defy it. His lip trembled, he could hardly stop blinking.
Suddenly, he kicked his chair back in fury and he yelled in a spiteful tone at the top of his voice, the cooks could hear it all, “Why are you so damn concrete, Pa? Huh? Do you like never loving anyone?”
Louis expected he’d create a reaction. Casually, he joined his son in standing. With both hands in his pockets and a forward tilt in his left shoulder, he looked down at the table, at all the food, and then up again at Sean who by then was red in the face, with embarrassment, with terror and with uncontrollable rage.
His dad began to speak, “You know, Jim Morrison once said -”
“Jim Morrison once said – Jim Morrison once said! I don’t give a fuck what Jim Morrison has said to support your beliefs, Dad!”
He continued as intended, unfazed and hard faced, “He said that we fear violence less than our own feelings. Personal, private, solitary pain is more terrifying than what anyone else can inflict. I think that’s a great quote, kid.”
“You’re a God damn lunatic, man. You need some fucking help!”
“Oh yeah?”Louis was now fuelled with testosterone, ill tempered and loud, he got close to Sean’s face and he shouted, “You’re my fucking blood, kid! You are me, you are a part of me, you are just a kid made up of two horrible people. Fucking hallelujah, you hippy!”
Two horrible people. The words spiralled in his mind. He knew that was a lie. Whoever his mother was, she wasn't a horrible person. She couldn't have been, because she's influenced a child without ever being present in his life.
Taking his seat at the head of table again, tucking in to the rest of his meal, Louis sighed and tranquilly expressed, "Did you know you've got Italian ancestors?"
There was no reply, no retort. A strong silence remained. Through a distorted agitation, Sean picked up his chair and carried on finishing his meal. He began shedding light on his situation. He needed to learn when and where he could be himself, just until he had the freedom to run.
After the explosive dinner, Sean had to work the evening shift at the furniture store, meaning he had to spend even longer without visiting Nicky. His family were very passionate about remaining close, and it was like blasphemy for him not to be at his side at all times.
But he cared a lot about his job, and the people he worked for, so he did his duty. And during the shift, one that sees barely anyone enter the shop at all, he met the next obstacle that life had to throw at him.
Jeremy and Helena had a daughter that attended university on a scholarship. She was highly thought of in their books and always on the tip of their tongue. In Sean's opinion, she was a 'show daughter', or so he assumed from what he had heard. But that evening, he met her for the first time. She came tumbling through the open door at around 7:00pm, carrying two black bags and a brown leather chest. For a moment, he had no idea who she was or what she was doing with all that stuff. But after she turned to face him and approached the counter, her youthful glow and unforgettable blue eyes caught him speechless.
"Hi there, I was expecting to see my parents actually. This is kind of awkward. Do you work here?" she said, coyly twisting the tight curls in her brunette hair.
Gaining composure, Sean managed to find the words to reply, "Er yes, I do work here. I work for Jeremy and Helena, are they your folks?"
"You're the boy they always talk about, yeah. Your name is Sean?"
"They talk about me, good things I hope?"
"I don't know, depends on what your opinion of good is."
She had a brutal, thick Southern tone in her feminine voice that she'd clearly picked up from time spent away. Sean envisioned how her summers would be spent on tire swings drinking ice cream sodas and playing seven minutes in Heaven. All the things he thought that good kids got up to, all the things he never knew how to do. But he wasn't entirely far off from her reality.
"My name is Molly, by the way. I'm on a break from studies and I thought I'd come surprise the folks by landing myself in their company for a bit, but this has certainly backfired. Will they be at home?"
"I can't say I know, unless they're hiding out back." Sean admired her physique for a moment, but only for a short while before shaking it off, "I can take your things for you, if you want? I gotta hang out here until eight, then I can drive you to your ma and pa's and be rid of ya, deal?"
"Well, I'm not a nuisance already, am I Sean?" she playfully flirted. Immediately he was attracted to the purity that she radiated, for she was everything he wanted to escape to and know of. He felt a necessity to hold her and protect her and almost instantly assured himself she was going to be his motivation out of there.
They spent the last hour before closing talking about her university and the wonderful people she'd met.