Building things was never my strong suit. I can dismantle a television in a matter of moments but putting it back together again is something else entirely. I have learned a lot by taking things apart though. One time I learned that if you need a Phillips-head screwdriver and all you have is a standard flat-head, a drill or a crowbar can be substituted in with relative ease. Sometimes in life, you need to get creative.
I got creative again last week. I had a dispute over the grading of a question on my Business Ethics final. My teacher just couldn’t comprehend the simple idea that if a culture is built upon the principles of capitalism and rooted in violence, when this society creates an inequity of freedoms for its working class, it is entirely justifiable—some would call it a “duty”—for those whose lives that are wrecked by unethical employer-to-employee relationships to balance this discrepancy. Even if that balance is attained through violence. After it became clear that she wasn’t hearing my case, I left. I went home, did some research, found her address, and sneaked in in the middle of the night. I sliced off her ears. I don’t think she liked my creative solution too much.
My dad hasn’t been too keen of my creative streak either. I looked like I was hit by a car when I got to the hospital after dismantling the television near the end of 7th grade. In fact, that’s the exact story he told the police too. He said I was kicking a soccer ball around in our front yard when the ball went into the street. I went running after it and a lowered red Honda hatchback flew around the corner, lifting me ten-feet into the air. He claimed that the car sped off around the next corner before he could get the license plate info. It amazes me what some people will believe. Both of my arms were busted in multiple places and the ulna bone of my left arm protruded from the skin. I had bruised and cracked ribs and my left leg was broken as well. I was rightly fucked up. My dad must have noticed how badly I was busted up because he commented about how he was going to have to spend time in the hospital and then punched me in the face, knocking out two of my teeth. My dad can be quite the prick.
As you can probably guess, my dad has never been the kind of person to say I Love You, but I think he does. Maybe I’m being naive but I’d like to think he doesn’t intend to be the insufferable bastard he is. From what I’ve been able to piece together over the years, my father has issues with me because I remind him of his true love. Not my mom. No, his true love was Alison. He was with Alison before he got together with my mom. He cheated on Alison frequently and one of these many girls-on-the-side was my mom. When my mom found out she was pregnant, she confronted Alison and my father. Alison dropped him like a freshman math class and he never saw her again. I guess I am the physical manifestation of his tortured soul. I sometimes wonder what became of Alison.
The hospital sent me home in casts and I was immobilized for the better part of four months after that incident in 7th grade. I was prescribed pills for the pain but my dad ate them all. My arms, torso, and legs were covered in plaster, metal, and bandages. I felt like Robocop meets The Mummy but far less bad ass. I was more like Robocop meets The Mummy crossed with Terri Schiavo. Life sucked. I spent time in my own head dreaming up rich fantasies and living out realities that were not my own. Sometimes the occasional friend would stop by, but most of them were scared of my dad and wouldn’t stay long. I also ended up watching a lot of crap on the television.
Eventually my right arm got better and I was able to use it again. I started writing down and drawing sketches of these stories and characters I’d been dreaming up. Then my dad found one of my notebooks. I lost several pieces of work and gained an extra week of recovery time. After that, I pulled apart some wall panels through creative means and began hiding my work. I also began hiding other artifacts I was able to get my hands on. I swept the house for various trinkets as I developed more motor control and stashed them in these wall portals I’d made. Remotes, coffee mugs, bowls, CDs, beer, bullets; hiding things became one of my favorite pastimes. My father always blamed me but could never prove anything. Of course, a lack of proof isn’t always enough to stop aggression in this world.
My father isn’t stupid. He’s a copyright attorney for a large movie studio and makes a good amount of money by being an intolerable prick to a lot of people. I’m pretty sure he knows what his eventual fate is going to be, or at least the relative ballpark, and perhaps this knowledge is what gives him continued motivation for his abusive tendencies. Maybe I’ve enjoyed this relationship too. I dunno. Something gives me the inspiration to create the stories and characters that are hidden within these walls of our house. There was a reason I didn’t runaway or move out while in high school or when I turned 18. Or 19. Or 20, 21, 22, 23. Here I am at 24-years-old and I’m still living in the place I grew up in. The physical violence, however, has slowed down as the years have moved on. That was at its height during those middle school years just after my mother disappeared.
I’m sure you’re thinking my father did something to her but he didn’t. She just up and bolted one afternoon while I was at school. A few years later she briefly returned. It was during spring break and I was a freshman in high school. I was home alone, my dad was at work. Coincidentally, I was in the middle of coloring a picture I had recently drawn of my mom when she showed up. The picture showed my mom in the passenger seat of a car that was being driven by Martik. Martik is a goblin I use in many of my stories and drawings. I like him a lot. I was on the couch when there was a knock at the front door. I got up, moseyed over to the door and opened it. It was my mom. She stared at me in silence as her eyes turned red, filling with tears. As she began to speak, she could barely get the words out of her fragile and pathetic mouth. I could barely stomach listening to them too.
“Oh Ryan!” she gasped.
“Hi,” I replied without inflection as I hoped she choked on her tears.
“Oh Ryan, I have missed you so much,” and other blah blah blahs. Her hands were partially covering her mouth which made it even more arduous to understand her babble. She stepped forward and reached her arms out to hug me. I stepped away.
“Look mom,” I decided to cut through the awkward bullshit. “It’s good to see you and all, but whatever it is you’re here to achieve, I don’t care. Leave me alone.” I turned around to walk inside. She grabbed my arm.
“Ryan!” she exclaimed. “I’m so sorry!”
I jerked my arm out of her grasp, turned back around, looked at her and replied, “I don’t care.”
I went inside and closed the door. I stood on the other side for a moment listening to her sob uncontrollably. Eventually, I grew tired of this sound and hoped she would take the hint and leave. I ambled over to the couch and picked up the drawing of my mom and Martik. I examined the colors of the mountains in the background and the shading of the orange Cadillac. It wasn’t fully colored in, but maybe that was for the best. I went back to the front door and opened it. My mom, who was now sitting on the ground, looked up at me and froze.
“You should have this,” I said as I handed her the picture. While I hated her, she was still my mom. I closed the door one last time before she could say anything and locked the deadbolt with finality.
That was the only time I have ever given anyone anything I’ve made. Everything else is stashed in these walls. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if they decided to demolish this place or if someone else bought it and knocked down a wall, revealing hundreds upon hundreds of journal entries, stories, drawings, various remotes, ties, socks, and sketches. I’ve lived out many tales of vengeance and retribution within these walls and some of them were actualized in real life. Maybe someone would finally figure it all out. But then again, people are idiots.
I’m still amazed I haven’t gotten into any trouble for the various crimes I’ve committed over the years. If the mean IQ of the USA is 98—a rating considered average—then the average is quite rubbish. If my grad school peers are considered worthy enough to make it into grad school, it’s no wonder our world is fucked. My dad, for all of his faults, seems to understand this idea. Maybe that’s why he doesn’t seem to care about the lives he helps ruin. He probably thinks both sides are fucked and just takes the larger sum of money. In some ways I respect that.
I’ve never had a plan for my life. I’ve never been quite sure of what I was going to do or why I was going to do it. I graduated with a triple major in Marketing, Philosophy, and History because my academic adviser thought it was a good idea. Turns out that my adviser is equally as pointless as these three subjects. At one point I thought about going into law but that seemed like too much work. I decided to apply to an MBA program after graduation because I didn’t know what else to do. I got a full scholarship and extra money to cover living expenses. It seems quite apparent that the people in charge of protecting and serving are also in charge of the educational system.
There’s been a lot of activity on campus after last week’s creative solution with my teacher. Various suits and jackets questioning faculty and students. They talked with me this morning. They’ve questioned me in the past regarding other events but this time things seemed different. Maybe I’ve finally slipped up or maybe they’re simply tired of talking to me. It’s hard to say and I don’t really care too much either. I’ve made it this far. Obviously I’m doing something right. I opted to skip the rest of my classes today so I could spend the day at home creating.
I’ve been working on a series of drawings featuring Martik at the Seven Wonders of the World. There are stories for each of the drawings too. Basically Martik is responsible for each of the Wonders and the accompanying stories explain how each one was created. These aren’t my most interesting pieces of work but I feel this is a better focus of my energy than sitting in valueless classes while the campus is freaking out. I don’t really like the perspective on the Temple of Artemis though. Maybe I’ll redo it tomorrow. Right now I need to get this stuff back into the walls before my dad gets home.